Organ Donation: Life on a waiting list

Can you imagine struggling to brush your own hair or even clean your teeth?

Most of us would find these tasks easy but what if doing these two simple things left you both tired and out of breath?

What if  doing the simple day-to-day activities of life became an enormous challenge?

That’s what Ellie Holman has faced all of her life after she was diagnosed with heart disease when she was only 13-years-old.

Before her surgery she heard seven words she never thought she would: “You only have three months to live.”


Ellie before becoming Ill

Before Surgery

At the age of 16, Ellie’s heart disease had progressively gotten worse.

A life revolving around hospital appointments can not have been the best to lead.

Priorities for the now Student Nurse were very different to any ordinary 16 year old.

Remembering when the next hospital appointment was at the top of the list, not the next house party.

Ellie said: “Life was hard, I used a wheelchair, I couldn’t walk far at all without stopping, I often went a tinge of blue, my appetite decreased and I lost 3 stone in the space of 3 months.”

16 and restricted on mobility became isolating for Ellie.

Especially at such a young age when you’re usually at your healthiest.

Walking was almost impossible to do without having to stop and take a breather.

The heart disease had taken over the easiest of activities.

Going out for food and a catch-up with her friends wasn’t an option with no appetite.

Having a shower without assistance was a real struggle.

The heart disease started to takes it toll on her body, leaving herself in a unhealthy state.

Another hospital appointment came round.

Ellie was put on the extremely important list for a Heart Transplant.

With 3 months to live.

Something so life changing at such a young age would be a hard pill to swallow. She told me: “I was heart broken and I couldn’t accept what was happening to me and decided to put it to the back of my mind.” 

The nineteen year old struggled to accept she was so poorly.

This was a continuous feeling right up until the transplant. Even when she received the call she was still in denial of needing a transplant. She thought that the doctors had got it all wrong.

Not a call you are expecting to be waiting for at the age of 19.

Usually a call for a gossip with your best friend.

Ellie told me: “I did accept my own death in a strange way.”

Can you imagine at the age of 19, accepting your own death?

A whole life ahead of you to live but it could be taken away from you at anytime.

Ellie knew that she had to be very lucky to get a donor heart and if she did it was brilliant and was ever so fortunate.

5 long weeks had passed. A match was found.

Imagine the feeling of knowing you are about to get a second chance on life, something you had already wrote off?

After Surgery 

Ellie said: “Recovery took very long because I was so poorly before, instantly after the transplant I felt better and my quality of life improved straight away ” 

Days of waiting for a transplant had soon changed to days of waiting to recover to a normal life again.

A long process.

17 days after surgery, recovering in hospital and finally Ellie can go home.

She is about to get some normality back in her life .

With lots of support from her relieved family.

Ellie had to make another life changing decision.

The career path had to take a different route 7 months into recovery.

From being a healthy young care assistant, to a less physical job of a retail assistant in Marks and Spencer’s.

Nineteen, young and popular, Ellie had become distant to some friends.

Maintaining friendships were hard on her behalf.

She had not planned to spend her teenage years in a hospital.

She let go of some friends who didn’t make time for her between hospital appointments or make any effort to visit her.

From then on relationships only got stronger with family and friends.

Life changing circumstances really did show who was important to herself and who surrounded Ellie in such difficult times.

Such a big procedure performed on such a young girl is without a doubt going to have an effect mentally.

Yet more appointments were in order to see a Psychologist every so often after surgery.

Ellie tells me: ” I have quite bad health anxiety and often worry if my health is going to change and or deteriorate.” This is something that will always be at the back of her mind.

Understandably from Ellie’s past this is something which is not surprising and is ever so normal to feel after a massive Surgery.

Three Years Later 

22 and fully recovered.

Living her life to the full like every other 22 year old is and making up for the lost time.

Ellie said:”Having my transplant made me more determined to become a nurse, I have a better understanding and empathy with the patients I come into contact with and their family whilst I’m on placement as I 100% know how hard it is being in hospital.”

From being months away to loosing her life to now fulfilling her career dreams, life could not get much better for Ellie Holman.

Back to normal life before falling ill, 12 hour shifts are back on the cards for the Student Nurse.

Now she is a big advocate for Organ Donation, Ellie says: “I share my story and i’m involved with ‘Share your wishes.” 

She also now supports transplant patients pre and post Operation.

Finding her new heart has been a roller coaster of emotions.

ITV and The Daily Mail share Ellie’s Story.

This is to inform people how important Organ Donation is.

Ellie 2 1/2 years after Transplant

The Newcastle Freeman Hospital, where the transplant took place, sees the Student Nurse help during Organ Donation Week manning the stall to raise awareness and promote the cause.

Ellie said: “I can now live my life as I want.”

The one and only thing any teenager would have wanted, but at 22, Ellie is finally able to take control again.

The 22 year old  had sent a letter to the family of the donor around two years ago.

Unfortunately she is still waiting for a reply.

Ellie found out the age and gender of the donor but that’s the only thing

How can you become a Donor?

You can become a donor by registering on the NHS  wesbite.

This means that when you die, someone else who needs working organs can have yours.

Be kind and considerate.

















Organ Donation: Life on a waiting list
Skip to content