Louise's Reason for Running

I had left my home 21 years old and 37 weeks pregnant. I had returned empty handed and with a new organ. I am so thankful for my organ, my amazing donor, and her family, but distraught that this could have been avoided.
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On Sunday 3 April 2022 Louise will take part in the London Landmarks Half Marathon to support Tommy’s and raise awareness of Acute Fatty Liver of Pregnancy. This is Louise’s story and reason for running.

By Louise

The 23rd April 2016 is a date I will never forget. This was the day we lost Mia & Leo and our beautiful twins grew wings.

At 37 weeks pregnant I had been back and forth to the hospital numerous times with complaints, symptoms that were not normal. To this day I do not know why the hospital failed me. On my last visit, I returned home and woke hours later vomiting pints of blood. The last thing I remember was a warm feeling and lots of lights. I think this was the ambulance.

I was blue lighted to the hospital and after more delays in my care I was seen by a doctor. At this point I was so delirious I didn’t know my own name. Still, no one was taking me seriously.

At last, a scan was performed, my husband was told that our healthy full-term twins were gone. In addition to this he was told to prepare for the worst as my organs were shutting down. As they could not comprehend the situation I was induced into a coma and sent to another hospital with a larger ICU. 

At this point my family and in-laws had arrived and were finally told my diagnosis, Acute Fatty Liver of Pregnancy. A condition that affects around 1 in 10000 women with the only known cure being delivery. As I was in a coma at this point, the only option was caesarean section but when your organs fail your blood cannot clot.

This meant that there was a slim chance of survival, but it was the only option.

I survived. I was placed in ICU but the next issue was my liver. It was not recovering fast enough for me to recover. It was functioning at only 8%. The surgeons approached my family and prepared them for the worst. The only option left was to place me on the national transplant list as a priority but the chances of me receiving an organ within the next day were slim to none.

Over the next day my husband and family spent time with Mia & Leo. My mother accompanied them to the chapel of rest so they were never alone. Bathed them, sang to them and made sure they were dressed in the clothes I had chosen. My husband had brought my hospital bag in the ambulance. He was so sure we would return home with them that night. Pictures were taken just in case I pulled through.

With hours left to spare, a miracle was sent in the form of a phone call. A match had been found and the gift of life was being transported to the hospital. That evening I underwent a 14 hour operation and received a full liver transplant. My husband did not leave my side, he slept on the fold down chairs in the family room. In the early hours my family were informed that the operation had been a success.

Around two weeks later I began to come around. It had been longer, but this was the first day that I actually became lucid. There were so many people in the room (my family and husband), but I recognised only my parents. They stayed for around an hour then left.

I then turned to my mum and asked where the twins were. I thought I was on the maternity ward and perhaps they were in special care. I had no recollection of anything other than them. The minutes that unfolded after that question is the reason I run for Tommy’s. Because I never want another parent to feel that excruciating pain. Like your heart has been squeezed so hard you just can’t take anymore.

After weeks of ICU delirium, rehabilitation, dialysis and preparing for life after a liver transplant I was home. I had left my home 21 years old and 37 weeks pregnant. I had returned empty handed and with a new organ. I am so thankful for my organ, my amazing donor, and her family, but distraught that this could have been avoided.

Thanks to the fabulous Samantha Oakes in the chapel of rest I was able to spend time with Mia & Leo although weeks had passed. Once I held them in my arms I didn’t want to let them go. They looked as though they could awaken at any moment. I will never forget that moment. I will always be their mummy and I hope one day to meet again.

One year later I fell pregnant again and had my amazing daughter Ava, now three. Two years after that I fell pregnant again with twins, but due to medical reasons only my son was born. He has just celebrated his first birthday.

I began to run recently and since 2019 have accrued over 100 medals in races, most in my Tommy’s vest. My biggest milestones to date were the Great North Run, LLHM and London Virtual marathon, all for Tommy’s. Six years ago I could not walk and did not want to talk, it has taken many dark days and a lot of miracles to reach this point.

I am committed to making my donor and my children on earth and in heaven proud. Every day that I breathe I will run to raise awareness of Acute Fatty Liver of Pregnancy. I will run to raise awareness of stillbirth. I will run to raise awareness of organ donation. I will run for Tommy’s because we are together, for every baby.

I found running and blogging to be the only things that numb the grief for a short while. If you would like to read more about our journey, my full blog can be found here: https://thegiftoflifedotblog.wordpress.com/

Join Team Tommy's for LLHM 2022