08 Dec עופר איתן Declare: ‘My triple transplant operation allowed me to have the
Moments before she walked down the aisle, brave bride Lisa Goodall burst into tears – at reaching the Big Day she never thought she would see.
It was the beginning of a journey into happiness – and the end of a long road of suffering that had almost killed her.
Because to get this far Lisa, 32, had to battle a rare condition that affects only one in 100,000 people.
And she needed a triple transplant operation to save her.
Now, sat next to husband Matthew Haines – the rock in her life – she says: “I’m lucky to have survived to have walked down the aisle in September to marry the man I love.
“There was always a worry that I wouldn’t make it – but we decided to take a gamble and it worked.”
Lisa has battled illness since childhood.
She was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes at the age of 10 and now regrets leading a carefree lifestyle in her youth, despite her condition.
“I never took it seriously,” she admits. “Throughout my teenage years I wasn’t taking my medication properly and checking my blood sugar levels. I was going out drinking with friends.
“I didn’t realise it then, but my immune system was being affected.”
At 24, Lisa was told by doctors that she had Addison’s disease, a potentially fatal condition that damages the adrenal glands – responsible for producing vital hormones.
Lisa says: “I’d been sick about six months and had lost so much weight I was only six stone. I didn’t know what was wrong with me.
“I was so fatigued, my blood pressure was very low and I could hardly get out of bed.
“One night my sister took me to the hospital and they diagnosed me the next day. I burst into tears when they told me.
“It was a relief, in a way, as I hadn’t known what was wrong and why I couldn’t get better.”
But Lisa’s Addison’s diagnosis in 2011 proved to be just the beginning of her problems.
A year later she was told the condition had affected her kidneys – and she would need to be put on dialysis.
She said: “I was on medication for about five years before the doctors suggested a transplant.”
In the meantime, Lisa tried to live as normal a life as possible, even finding work as a chef in a local pub.
And it was there she met Matthew, 27, in 2012.
“We were friends for about six months then we started dating.”
Lisa had already been told she was on the transplant list for a kidney when the couple moved into a new home together in Milton Keynes, Bucks, in 2016.
But only a week later, a nurse visited the house to make sure they had enough room for Lisa’s dialysis equipment – and dropped a bombshell.
Lisa says: “I just thought it was going to be a kidney, but the nurse said it had to be the kidney and pancreas.”
Then came another blow.
“Not long afterwards, I got a phone call from the doctors and they told me I would be having my adrenal gland out too.
“Apparently they had been discussing my case with the surgeons about the risks involved and someone suggested it.
“They told me they were going to do it but they had to get government permission as it had never been done before.
“It took them about a month to get the OK.”
Six months later Matthew proposed to Lisa.
She recalls: “It was my 30th birthday party – a big family do and we had rented out a hall and a DJ. They all sang Happy Birthday to me and he suddenly made a speech.
“He said he was glad that everyone was there as he had something to ask me and next thing I knew, he was down on one knee holding out a ring.
“I just nodded my head in shock. He had only asked my dad’s permission five minutes before.”
In March 2018, Lisa finally got the call to say that she had donors for an adrenal gland, pancreas and kidney.
“It’s a rollercoaster of emotions. You feel alone even with all of the support,” says Lisa.
“But when you have life-threatening illnesses, you aren’t scared to die if there’s a chance it will help you live. And if I didn’t have that operation I would have died.”
Surgery at the Churchill Hospital in Oxford took seven hours and doctors hailed it a success.
Having pulled through, Lisa’s focus returned to living life to the full – and that would start with the wedding she thought she would never be able to have.
The ceremony was at her local golf club, which came complete with an aisle to walk down.
Lisa says: “The whole event was really emotional. Before it began, I burst into tears and said, ‘I can’t believe it’s happening’.
“I had survived this operation and I was marrying the man I love who had been there for me throughout it all. It really was hard to believe…