I hope you are all looking forward to tuning in tonight to my episode of 'gift of life' at 10pm on channel 5! I excited if not a little apprehensive, I'm going to watch it with my parents!
When I was asked to be part of the 'gift of life' I didn't hesitate to agree. From this blog and my youtube you can see how much I like to document my journey with cystic fibrosis and transplant so being given the chance for my entire journey to be filmed was a dream come true! It was at my second false alarm for my transplant that I was approached by the film crew and asked if I would be involved, they explained that they would like to come to my house to film my life as a pre-transplant person and then if my call was to come with in their window of filming they would like to film my journey. I agreed there and then and numbers were exchanged to set up the first day of filming. It was just a week later that Becky and Louise arrived at my house to film the reality of my life whist waiting for my transplant, watching the footage back now is very strange... I knew I was very ill but I didn't realise quite how ill I was until I recovered from my transplant and was able to compare my life before to the incredible feeling after! My posture, voice and colouring has all changed, I can stand straight with my shoulder back, my voice isn't raspy and breathless and I no longer have sunken dark eyes and pale skin.
It was just a week after the girls had been round to film me that I got my 3rd and final call for transplant. Whilst I was in the ambulance en route to the hospital I had a call from Lynne the transplant co-ordinator to ask if I was still happy to be filmed and if so the crew would meet me off the ambulance and follow me from then on! Of course I agreed and as promised the film crew were there cameras on as I was wheeled off the ambulance and into the hospital. Strangely I didn't really take much notice of the cameras or feel nervous about them, I had too many other things running though my mind about if this was going to be another false alarm or go ahead. I had already had 2 false alarms so I knew the set up of the day and the tests I would require, had I not known that I think being filmed would have been harder. As the day progressed and things became more intense as we continued to wait for the news that the lungs were good enough the crew and cameras were a welcome distraction! I was able to tell them exactly what shots I would like them to get during the operation, having 2 biologists as parents and having studied a-level biology myself I was fascinated to see all the details of the operation!
When Lynne came over and finally told us the news that the lungs were good enough and the transplant was going ahead relief washed over me and then excitement and adrenaline kicked in, I couldn't stop smiling! I remember being wheeled in and being told that the mask they put on me smelt of my little pony, and telling my mum I loved her, it's all a bit hazy and a blur though so to be able to re-watch those precious life changing moment is very moving.
When I awoke in intensive care after my transplant I can barely remember that they came in and filmed, I was still away with the fairies and I sounded like a mouse! Due to all the difficulty and the life threatening situation I ended up in I wasn't filmed again for over 4 weeks! It was a relief to be able to be filmed again and show that I had survived! It was great having the crew around over the long 5 further weeks of recovery! They kept me company even when they weren't filming and kept me updated on what was going on in the outside world! I found it easy to be on camera and talk about everything, I think it helped me to organise my thoughts and feelings and was a weight of my shoulders when I had talked about them! It was entertaining to see how staff reacted to being filmed, some didn't mind at all where as others would hide anywhere they could to avoid it!
At times it was hard being filmed in the most intimate and difficult time of my life, constantly trying to put into words how I felt was difficult as often no words seemed to be able to convey quite how I was. It was also difficult filming my journey in which we didn't know the ending of, for all of you watching, you knew before watching that I have a happy ending, we didn't have that comfort.
Luckily I did have a happy ending and the joy and freedom that engulfed me when I left the hospital was incredible. Once home and settled back in the film crew visited me for the final time to film my new life with my new lungs, I hope it showed you just how massive the difference is for me and how organ donation has changed my life for the better in every possible way!
|Last bit of filming, me back at home post transplant!|
|Me with the lovely Becky and Louise who filmed me the majority of my transplant journey!|
In september I was contacted by channel 5 press team asking if I would be involved in the advert campaign leading up to the release of the programmes, I jumped at the chance of course and so I was whisked down to London on the train for a day filming in the studio. Being filmed in a studio was so different to the documentary style filming I was accustomed to but the crew were lovely and I felt at ease in no time. It was nice to have my hair and make up done and look like a person instead of a patient! I had a great day filming the ad even if the studio lights are boiling! I also got to do some behind the scenes interviews which are available on channel5.com/giftoflife and in this short video.
|The studio set up for filming the promo!|
Here is the video with all the contributors from the series gift of life
On Monday 19th I travelled to London again to stay for another few days as the 3 day count down to the transmission of the first episode on the 21st! I had a busy but fun schedule to get through. They got me to travel down to London by train on the Monday afternoon to allow me a good night sleep in London ready for the early wake up on Tuesday!
|On my way to London!|
|Filming on westminster bridge|
|Walking across oxford circus|
Once back at my sisters I enjoyed a bacon sandwich and cup of tea before crashing out for a good few hours. I was back up and ready by 3pm though to be taken to one of my best friends salon to have my hair blowdried for that evenings appearance on the channel 5 6.30pm news. It was nice having my hair done for me, I felt pampered and calm about going live on TV! At 5pm the car picked me up from the salon and took me to channel 5 HQ where the news studio is, I had my make up perfected and briefly met with Matt the presenter before I went live on air. The studio was quite intense as all the cameras are right on you so there is nowhere to hide mistakes! I kept my shaky hands in my lap to stop any signs of my nerves being on show! The interview was over in the blink of an eye and before I knew it I was back in the car on the way home to my sisters for dinner and a well needed early night!
|A view of me on the news from the gallery|
|Me on the news with Matt!|
|Me with Matthew Wright and the lady from NHS blood and transplant|
Please, please, please sign up to be an organ donor today at:
You could save up to 9 lives. I wouldn't be here today if it wasn't for my donor and for that I am eternally grateful that they signed up to be a donor and shared their decision with there loved ones.
I had a great experience filming the adverts and promotion work in London, I got home on the Wednesday night in time to watch the first episode of 'gift of life' air on channel 5!
Thank you so much for watching The Gift of Life and reading my blog!