Sunderland woman who had three different transplant operations wants you to help save lives

A young artist and triple transplant recipient is appealing to people to sign the NHS Organ Donor Register.

Wednesday, 4th September 2019, 16:45 pm
Updated Wednesday, 4th September 2019, 14:19 pm
Sunderland University fine art graduate and triple transplant survivor, Linzi Saunders, attends the 2019 Summer Graduation ceremony at the Stadium of Light.

At just 22 Linzi Saunders’ life has been saved three times by transplant surgery. Without organ donation Linzi, a student at the University of Sunderland, would not be here.

Now, as part of Organ Donation Week this week, Linzi, who is about to begin an MA in fine art after gaining her degree in July, is urging others to sign up.

Linzi, from Ryhope, said: “I have received three transplants; bone-marrow, heart and kidney.

Linzi Saunders graduates at the Stadium of Light with her parents James and Michelle.

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“I feel so lucky to have had them as each one has helped to continue the life I love so very much. Because of everything I’ve been through, I now find my ambition in life is to promote organ donation whenever I can and however I can.”

As a baby Linzi had two different complex types of leukaemia. Medics had to try something different and Linzi was the first patient to undergo a new medication. She then needed a bone marrow transplant and her family were tested for possible donors, her brother James proved a perfect match.

Despite a successful transplant, the new treatment affected her heart and aged eight she developed cardiomyopathy. Still at Ryhope Junior School, Linzi needed a new heart.

After five weeks on the register, a donor heart was found. She had the transplant in December 2005. Linzi astounded doctors with her speedy recovery, but still missed much of the school year.

Linzi Saunders at age eight,following her heart transplant alongside a piece of artwork she later created replicating the picture.

In 2014 she developed norovirus. This affected her already weak kidneys, which were only operating at 42%.

She was put back on the Donor Register. Family was again tested. Fortunately, her sister’s mother-in-law matched. In September 2017, Linzi had a third transplant.

Linzi said: “Organ donation is so important to me as it has saved my life on more than one occasion. All three transplants have helped me achieve my goals in life such as competing in the British Transplant Games and starting college and university, as well as getting on with normal everyday life.

“It's truly amazing how one person can save eight people on the waiting list by donating their organs.”

Visit www.organdonation.nhs.uk