• STV
  • MySTV

My hero: Woman pays tribute to organ donor after double lung transplant

Kirsty Harvey, 32, who has cystic fibrosis, says the operation has transformed her life.

Saved: Kirsty Walker thanks her organ donor every day.
Saved: Kirsty Walker thanks her organ donor every day.

Kirsty Harvey lived in uncertainty for almost three decades, wondering if her next day would be her last.

At nine months old, she was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis, a genetic illness that would constantly clog her lungs with mucus, forcing her to take 60 tablets a day on top of regular physiotherapy for most of her youth.

The 32-year-old from Glasgow says she "kept really well" for several years until 2007 when she was told she needed a double lung transplant or her condition would deteriorate.

She received a life-saving phone call the day after she turned 26 - a matching donor had been found and she would receive the transplant pending tests.

Kirsty was given her donor's details and penned a heartfelt letter of thanks to their family.

She said: "Every single day I thank the family for choosing to follow my donor's wishes at a time of utter devastation. They will always be kin and my heroes.

"I was aware when I went on the transplant list there was a one in two chance I wouldn't survive long enough - but it has transformed my life.

"Prior to that I was on oxygen 24 hours a day, I was on a ventilator at night, I had to use a wheelchair or get my husband to piggyback me everywhere. That donation gave me everything back."

Post-op: Kirsty and husband married after her transplant.
Post-op: Kirsty and husband married after her transplant.

Kirsty's transplant was a major operation that gave her a new lease of life, enabling her to become a humanist wedding celebrant just like her father.

The time leading up to that critical phone call still rings clear in Kirsty's memory, however.

Every element of her daily routine was a "mammoth task" and she describes the uncertainty of organ donation as being a "horrendous" wait.

She said: "I'll hear a song or see something and I'm transported back to living every day thinking that might be my last.

"I wasn't able to wash myself and I couldn't have showers without holding on to railings or getting assistance.

"That's what happens with cystic fibrosis, it takes away every ounce of your independence until you rely solely on everyone.

"The toughest thing for me waiting for a transplant was I could deal with my life being over. I couldn't deal with the after-effects it would have on my loved ones.

"How are my parents going to pick up the pieces? How are my sisters going to live without me being there?

"How would my nieces and nephews know what I was like? They were too young to remember me."

Family: Kirsty became a humanist celebrant like her father.
Family: Kirsty became a humanist celebrant like her father.

Even before receiving her new lungs, Kirsty had dedicated her life to raising awareness on organ donation, an issue she feels is not discussed enough in Scotland.

As well as inspiring her peers to become organ donors, Kirsty has encouraged children to discuss the issue through her work with the Orgamites project.

Orgamites is a series of cartoon characters, produced by Donroy Entertainment, which promotes the science behind organ donation and healthy discussion on what happens after death.

Kirsty added: "Organ donation doesn't just save one person's life - it saves a family of a lifetime of heartbreak.

"But talking to your children about whether they would want to save people if anything happened is still looked upon as a taboo.

"I've talked to friends' children about it and every time, without a doubt, children always say they would want to save someone. Organ donation should be a normality and we hope that it might join the school curriculum too."

http://stv.tv/news/features/1345828-why-should-scots-sign-up-to-the-organ-donation-register/ | default

Download: The STV News app is Scotland's favourite and is available for iPhone from the App store and for Android from Google Play. Download it today and continue to enjoy STV News wherever you are.

One account. All of STV.

This field is required. That doesn't look like a valid e-mail format, please check. That e-mail's already in our system. Please try again.
ShowHide
Forgot password?
This field is required. At least 6 characters please. Did you enter your details correctly?
If you've forgotten your details then use the 'Forgot password?' link.
Need to reset your password?

We'll send a link to reset your password to

We've sent you details on how to reset your password

Please check your email and follow the instructions.

Forgotten your email address?

Have you forgotten the email address that you previously joined with? Don't worry, by emailing enquiries@stv.tv we can help.

One account. All of STV.

This field is required. Please enter at least 2 characters
This field is required. Please enter at least 2 characters
At least 6 characters please
ShowHide
This field is required. At least 6 characters please.
You have to be 16 or over to join
This field is required. This doesn't appear to be a valid date
Type your full postcode and select your address This field is required. It doesn't look like you've entered a valid postcode. Can't find your address? Confirm the details you've given us are correct by clicking here

By continuing you agree to our Terms of Use, including our Privacy Policy and Cookie Policy. Any issues contact us.

Upload Profile Picture

Please make sure your image is under 2mb in size and a valid JPG, PNG or GIF.

Are you sure?

Unfortunately, you'll be unable to access our premium content. We’ll be sorry to see you go, but if you change your mind you can rejoin us at any time.

Please verify your STV account

Please verify your STV account using the email we sent you. If you have lost the email, we can send you another one, just click the button below.

Thanks

We've sent you a new verification email.
Please check your email and follow the instructions to verify your account.

Welcome to STV
Thanks for joining us.

Oops!

Sorry, you must be at least 12 years old to place a vote for your Real Hero.

Please review our Voting Terms of Use for more information.

Oops!

Sorry! It seems that you are using a browser that is incompatible with our voting service.

To register your vote please copy the below URL in to your regular mobile browser. We recommend Google Chrome, or Safari.

http://shows.stv.tv/real-heroes/voting

Oops!

Sorry, you seem to have already voted in this category.

Thanks for voting

Now share your vote with friends on your social network

Share on twitter Share on facebook

Cast your vote

Please register or sign in to continue.

Cast your vote

This field is required. This doesn't appear to be a valid date

Cast your vote

Please fill out this form to cast your vote. As you are under 16 years old you will not create an STV account. Why do we need these details?

This field is required. Please enter at least 2 characters
This field is required. Please enter at least 2 characters
This field is required. That doesn't look like a valid e-mail format, please check.
Location This field is required.
Parental Consent This field is required.

That's you. All that's left is to click the 'Submit Vote' button below. By doing so, you confirm that you and your parent or guardian have read and accept our Voting Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Cookie policy, and that the details you have entered are correct. We'll look after them as carefully as if they were our own.