The Three Musketeers: Renate Zeigermann’s Transplant Story

Renate Zeigermann wearing a raincoat on a sandy shore

The second of November 2023 Is the day I will celebrate my first birthday after transplant. I just wanted to share my thoughts on the journey that I started a year ago… At first, I want you to know that you all are very special to me. How could I ever forget your kindness, your friendship and the help we gave each other. I love you all, my wonderful friends. I know a lot about how you feel and what you dream about. I feel and dream the same. We’ve been through something so amazing, it changes everything. I have been in difficult situations during my long years with German Television and sometimes it was not far from a catastrophe. My profession can be dangerous at times, but I could always trust my instincts, my knowledge, and my ability to survive. This time it was completely different, I needed help and only the best could help me. Luckily, I found the best. Each and everyone was just an expert and also driven by the wish to do everything that was possible or even impossible for us patients. Unfortunately, I don’t remember my Surgeon’s name. All I remember is that he is very tall, dark hair with a bit of grey and the most beautiful eyes. I remember that I loved him from the moment he told me that he would operate on me even when they’re still hurdles to take. I would give everything to shake his hands again. My hero.

And now I really have to talk about my three musketeers…


First, my Lion, Dr Bill Griffith. He will always be my number one. He fought for me, he saw my strength under a pile of rubbish and he made a miracle. He is also a great human being. He did hold my hand when we realised that there was nothing to do anymore other than a liver transplant and he again was there holding my hand when he told me that I had made it, after the operation. He was the only person I believed when he said it and finally, I started the long way to recovery. The next one is Dr Gelson, my lovely shark. Why I call him that is a different story, but it was a joke between us and I hope we still can smile about it in years to come. He is absolutely friendly but strict, warm and always brings me back to reality. Trying to keep me away from being over-excited but helping me keep hope.

Renate in hospital bed

And the last of the musketeers, my Teddybear , Professor Gibbs, he is, and will be for the rest of my life, always the one I keep closest to my heart. He guided me through a horrible dark time with strength, knowledge and humour. He did put my head straight when I lost direction and all that he did was absolutely right. I hope that he will guide me further, because the rocky road Is still long. And there are all the others, all the wonderful doctors, nurses, transplant coordinators, consultants and everyone else in the transplant wards. As well as the patients. There was an enormous feeling of camaraderie between us. Never forget the lovely Sue Gray from the ALTA Support Team. I can’t thank her enough. So many hours listening to my fears, my hopes, my doubts, my defeat and my victory. Always interested, friendly and always giving helpful advice. It feels like I’ve known her my whole live. The people who deserve our upmost respect and love are the ones who made all this possible. 

Renate poses for photo with her flute.

The donor family who gave me the gift of life so that I can celebrate this special day. I wrote a letter to them even though they are not known to me, I feel very connected and I want to keep it there and private. I owe them so much. These people have all my love, respect and I can’t thank them enough.

My first birthday is near. Things are getting back to normal. There are days I forget that not long ago I had no hope. When I take my horse for a ride I feel young and strong. I still hope that a reduced amount of medication gets me back in the pilot seat of my little microlight and Professor Gibbs will be the one who finds a solution. Something to work on “va attaquer ce mur”.