Boldon transplant mum Cheryl backs ‘Let’s Talk’ campaign to encourage more organ donors

Cheryl Simpson at work
Cheryl Simpson at work

A mum-of-three who underwent a life-saving double transplant is backing calls for would-be donors to make sure their families understand their wishes.

Cheryl Simpson was twice put on stand-by for an operation before her successful combined kidney and pancreas transplant at Newcastle’s Freeman Hospital.

The biggest thank you has to go to my donor and donor family for giving me a second chance at life. I cannot thank them enough

Cheryl Simpson

Now she is supporting this year’s Organ Donation Week appeal - “Let’s Talk.”

Cheryl, 51, from Boldon, was diagnosed with gestational diabetes at the age of 29, during her third pregnancy. For most mums, the condition disappears after the baby is born but Cheryl’s diabetes remained and she struggled with various complications and hypoglycaemia (low blood glucose) for 22 years, needing to inject herself with lifesaving insulin four times a day.

“Three years ago, I received the devastating news that I was in kidney failure and would need either a transplant or go onto dialysis,” she said.

“I was given the choice to go just for a kidney transplant but still have diabetes, or go for a double transplant - a kidney and pancreas transplant. This obviously carried more risks but it hopefully meant I would no longer be diabetic.”

Cheryl, who works as an administrator in the musculoskeletal x-ray department at the Freeman, was placed on the transplant waiting list in October 2014.“I was monitored and kept in regular contact with my fabulous Transplant Co-ordinator, Denise Bennett,” she said.

Her first call for transplant came in January 2016 but she was sent home after a few hours as the organs were not suitable. The following August she received a second call and was prepared for theatre when told that again, the organs were not suitable.

“Mentally the stress of waiting was so unbelievably hard. Then eventually my third call came. After waiting for over two years, I was to be given the biggest gift that would change my life,” she said

“After the first few days I started recovering well and already felt this energy I had never had for so long, but more importantly, I no longer had my diabetes and did not require any insulin at all.

“Today I just feel great. I feel like a different person with more energy. I cannot praise the Freeman Hospital enough for everything they have done for me.

“I especially would like to thank my husband Bryan and my three wonderful sons Craig, Scott and Ross

“The biggest thank you has to go to my donor and donor family for giving me a second chance at life. I cannot thank them enough.”