The Life of Brian: From the last moments to a new beginning

"One family's sorrow gave me my tomorrow"

Brian Dean (in yellow) celebrates his 1st transplant anniversary with family

I’m Brian and I had been ill for many years, having been diagnosed with liver cirrhosis and hepatic encephalopathy (HE), which really changed my life as I was unable to do the simplest of tasks and my concentration both at work and driving became increasingly worse and I was instructed by my consultant to refrain from driving due to the severity of HE. I became very reliant on my family and they changed their lifestyle to ensure that I was safe and cared for.

It became a regular occurrence being an in-patient in Broomfield hospital Chelmsford and I was eventually referred to Addenbrooke’s to be assessed for a possible liver transplant.

The Assessment was undertaken in April 2016. I was admitted to Addenbrooke’s for a period of 3 days for the assessment to be undertaken. Having completed all the necessary tests, I returned home and continued with my regular visits to clinic for my liver function to be monitored. In November of the same year I was informed that I was going to be placed on the transplant list for which I was provided with a vast amount of literature referring to the process and recovery.

My first call was in January 2017, but was not to be, a week later I received a further call from Addenbrooke’s and so the journey began again, only to be returned home. A further call was received in June with the same result and then on 7th September 2017 I was again asked to attend Addenbrooke’s as there may be a liver for me. I went through the same procedure as previously with my wife and I driving, the now, all too familiar journey to Addenbrooke’s to be prepared for surgery in case the liver was a suitable match. The time passed slowly and after 5 hours I reluctantly told my wife to drive home not knowing how much longer I would have to wait for a decision. and whether in fact I would be returning home as I was so close to giving up as the HE was really taking over my life.

I had a visit from a doctor who informed me that the liver was not viable, and the transplant would not be going ahead. However, they were waiting the viability of another liver. On the evening of the 9th September I was informed that the transplant would be going ahead. At 10.30 I was taken to theatre to have my transplant.

Eleven hours later I was in recovery and vaguely remembering my family being with me. My recovery progressed well through ICT, HDU and finally onto G5. I was determined to become mobile as soon as possible so I could become strong enough to return home. On Friday 22nd September 2017 I was discharged to continue my recovery at home.

There are so many people that I owe my new life to, from the Consultants, Nurses, Transplant Co-ordinators, HCA, domestic staff and above all the surgical team that performed my transplant.

Brian on his first day at home after being discharged from hospital
I must include my family, who sacrificed a great deal during my illness, especially my wife who became my chauffeur, carer and support and was always by my side.

However, my final expression of gratitude must go to the 50 year old gentleman and his family who agreed to donate the liver that gave me a new life. It took me a considerable amount of time to write to the family and express my heartfelt thanks for the wonderful gift for which I will always guard and treat with respect.

Wherever you are my friend, rest assured the two of us are doing fantastically well and we make a damn good team!