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Doug's journey

I will always be grateful for the special gift of life.

I had been 'yellow' for years, but had no idea the underlying reason was that my liver was slowly dying.

In 2008 I was diagnosed with the end stages of liver failure. A month later cancer was found in my liver.

Over the next year I travelled regularly to Melbourne to monitor my condition and received chemo to ensure the cancer didn't spread to any other organs. I became sicker still and, after many tests, was put onto the transplant list for a donor liver.

I do not remember much from the year before I received a transplant, but I do remember the early hours when the Liver Transplant Coordinator rang to tell me a suitable donor had been found. It was very emotional. My partner, Julianne, even missed the turn off to the hospital. All we could think about was the person who had passed away but was giving me the gift of life.

Julianne agrees, 'The drive to the Austin Hospital was a very emotional journey. Thoughts of the donor and donor family were heart wrenching.'

The surgery took 10 hours and afterwards I spent eight days in Intensive Care. Now, 17 months later, I have fortnightly visits to the Austin Hospital, and my new liver shows no signs of rejection.

Julianne says I look so well and everyone can hardly believe it is still me. Before the transplant, I had no energy. I couldn't do anything. I wouldn't have seen Christmas without my transplant.

It changed my outlook and I now see myself as a completely different person. I still think of the donor and donor family and when the time is right will write to them.

I think about them often. Feelings can't express how much I appreciate the gift. How do you express it? It's a hard letter to write.

I have been given the go ahead to return to work in the building trade. I now enjoy the simple things like mowing the lawns and helping around the house.

I will always be grateful for the special gift of life.

Nicky Burton