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Liana needs a kidney to 'get her life back'

By Western Gazette - North Dorset  |  Posted: July 14, 2011

DON'T WAIT:  Liana Tolland and mum Di Bruce-Kidman are campaigning for more people to become organ donors. Liana, 19, says a kidney transplant could change her life.  Picture by Len Copland  WGLC20110705C

DON'T WAIT: Liana Tolland and mum Di Bruce-Kidman are campaigning for more people to become organ donors. Liana, 19, says a kidney transplant could change her life. Picture by Len Copland WGLC20110705C

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A YEOVIL teenager waiting for a kidney transplant to "get her life back" has urged more people to go on organ donor lists.

Liana Tolland, 19, of Cromwell Road, nearly died after contracting pancreatitis while on a gap year in Uganda last year.

The disease destroyed her kidney function and she now has to undergo four-hour dialysis sessions three times a week to keep her alive.

A former pupil of The Gryphon School in Sherborne, she is now awaiting a kidney transplant which would eradicate the need for regular treatment and heavy medication.

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She would also be able to have children, which would be virtually impossible while on dialysis.

It would also free her to achieve her ambitions of completing her gap year and joining the police force.

Liana is hoping her mum's best friend will be able to donate a kidney. Initial tests have shown Amanda Burford, of Stoke-sub-Hamdon, to be a suitable match.

Liana said: "It is draining physically and emotionally having to sit there plugged into a machine while all of your friends are going out and doing things. Afterwards I feel bad and have to go to bed.

"I feel under the weather all the time. I'd love to be able to wake up in the morning and feel fresh and ready to go."

Liana and her mum, Di Bruce-Kidman, 38, are now campaigning to get more people to register as organ donors. According to statistics released for National Transplant Week, 10,000 people are on a organ waiting list, and while 96 per cent of people say they would accept an organ, only 29 per cent of the population is on the donor register.

"It is incredible how many people have the ability to save a life by being on the donor register. We are saying to people – what are you waiting for? Until something like this happens to your family you don't even think about it," said Ms Bruce-Kidman.

"I think this shows that we should have an opt-out scheme for organ donors, rather than the current opt-in system."

When she set out on her gap year trip last September, Liana was looking forward to an experience of a lifetime teaching English and drama in a secondary school.

She started feeling unwell while staying in a concrete shack in a remote settlement several hours from Kampala.

She said: "I thought I was dying. I got to 3am and thought I needed help."

Liana initially phoned her mum in England on her mobile, but later a doctor was summoned by two fellow students she was staying with. Liana was sent to an international hospital in Uganda and originally misdiagnosed with peritonitis. She was prepared for an operation which would have proved fatal if blood results had not arrived in time showing she had acute pancreatitis instead.

She was transferred to a hospital in the Kenyan capital Nairobi. Shortly afterwards, Liana's family flew from Yeovil to be by her beside as she fought to recover from the potentially deadly illness.

Ms Bruce-Kidman said: "When Liana first called us we thought she had a stomach upset and this sort of thing was to be expected.

"Twelve hours later we had a phone call saying she was critically ill and we should get out there as soon as possible.

"We were completely beside ourselves. It's an indescribable agony being unable to get to your child when they are ill."

After returning to Britain, Liana spent months in hospital in Dorchester, Bristol and Yeovil. She suffered serious complications and underwent surgery in March to deal with a pseudocyst in her pancreas as well as having her gallbladder removed.

Liana said: "It has been traumatic. I will never look at life in the same way again. To have come that close to dying, I will now never just dawdle along. I will always make sure I am doing something."

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