‘My brave wife gave me the gift of life’

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A Leighton Buzzard couple who underwent a rare wife-to-husband simultaneous liver transplant have raised over £25,000 for the hospital where the life-changing procedure was carried out.

Having been diagnosed with liver cancer, retired business executive Keith Brazier waited patiently but in vain for 12 months for a donor organ before extensive tests, which took six months to complete, confirmed Lesley, his wife of 37 years, was a suitable donor for a “live” transplant .

The double procedure was the first of its kind to be carried out at Addenbrooke’s Hospital, Cambridge. It involved a 20-strong team or surgeons, doctors and nurses working in adjoining operating theatres for more than 12 hours to complete the process of transplanting around two-thirds of Lesley’s healthy liver to replace Keith’s damaged and failing organ.

Lesley was the UK’s oldest live-liver transplant donor with the operation only made possible by her good health.

Though Keith will have to take anti-rejection medication for the rest of his life, both he and Lesley have made full recoveries and are leading near-normal lives. The liver is the only body organ which regenerates and Lesley has now been told that the natural bodily recovery process has been successfully completed.

Says Keith, 62, who has lived and worked in Leighton Buzzard for 45 years: “Both Lesley and I were made fully aware of the risks to us both the transplant procedure involved, but after considering all the realistic options, she had no hesitation in agreeing.

“It was a very brave, selfless decision, and one which thanks to the skills of the medical team at Addenbrooke’s and the love and support of family and friends, is enabling me to enjoy a quality of life that hadn’t been possible.

Lesley, 59, who along with Keith consulted sons Daniel, Russell and Simon and other family members before going ahead with the life-saving operations said: “Whilst we made the decision to go ahead with the procedure in full knowledge of the dangers involved, its success was solely down to the skills of the medical team at Addenbrooke’s. Their professionalism, commitment and dedication is immense; we can’t thank them enough.”

But thank them they have with a donation worth over £25,000 to the Charitable Trust at Addenbrooke’s where it will be used to support pioneering medical developments and patient care.

Keith and Lesley, who live in Plantation Road just a chip and a putt from the Leighton Buzzard Golf Club where they are both members, raised most of the money at a charity golf day at Woburn, attended by Addenbrooke’s transplant clinical director Dr Paul Gibbs and surgeon Dr Neil Russell who were involved in the twin procedures.

Dr Gibbs praised Keith and Lesley for being “perfect patients” and urged more people to consider signing up as potential organ donors, a call which the Braziers fully endorse.

He told guests that while liver transplants have been carried out in the UK since 1968, “live” transplants were very rare and complex, with Keith and Lesley’s a “first” for Addenbrooks. The hospital is now planning other similar operations in the future.

Around 100 people took part in the golf charity day organised with the help of family friend Danny Nickless who also auctioned a range of items donated by friends and businesses which raised over £10,000.

The team golf competition was won by Woburn group Kevin Byram, Brian Nickless, Mark Bashur and Ian MacGregor; Leighton’s Rosie Hartnell finished top lady and Val Brown hit the ladies longest drive.

The donation to Addenbrooke’s was also boosted by members of the Leighton Buzzard-based Plum Duffs Golf Society who chipped in with more than £3,300, and other private donations.

PICTURES:

FUNDRAISERS... Keith and Lesley Brazier

CHECK MATES... Addenbrooke’s Dr Neil Russell, transplant co-ordinator Tine Hansen, Lesley and Keith Brazier with their cheque for over £25,000, and transplant HBP consultant Raaj Praseedom.

CHARITY DAY WINNERS... Ian McGregor, Mark Bashur, Brian Nickless and Kevin Byram with Keith and Lesley Brazier after their charity golf day victory.