Skip to main content

Transplant and television, 'Gift of life' documentary.

Hello everyone,

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 late June, Louise visited my house for the long awaited moment of seeing the final edit of the programme, I cried from 5 seconds in until over an hour after. Those 9 weeks in hospital seemed like a dream and hardly believable, only by looking at my scar and being able to breathe like a normal person could I be convinced I went through everything I did. It was a emotional roller coaster and reliving that as well as seeing the input from the doctors and nurses I hadn't seen was an awful lot to take in. I was really pleased with the edit though and excited for everybody to watch it. If I inspired just one person to be a donor I am happy as that's one more person than before.

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!
The Advert campaign was released at the end of September, it was really exciting to see the final edit.  I was so pleased with the promo and have received so much positive feedback about the clever unusual concept in which it really caught peoples attention and made them stop and think about organ donation which was a big aim of the campaign!

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! 
I got picked up at 5.15am to be taken to various locations around London for a big publicity stunt. We began at Marylebone station with 3 actors dressed as hospital patients with drip stands, to represent 3 people die each day waiting for an organ and myself (dressed normally) for a few shots with commuters looking on rather bewildered! We then moved onto Victoria place shopping centre at 7am where I got to sit and enjoy a cup of tea whilst watching the original 3 actors be joined by 18 more go up and down a set of escalators to represent that 21 people per week die waiting for a transplant. After we got the shots there we went to westminster bridge for 8am where luckily the weather was sunny (although very cold) to shoot the 21 patients walking along the bridge and film a video of myself talking about the transplant facts and my own experience. We finished the morning at oxford circus crossroads at 9am crossing the road on the diagonal again drawing the attention of commuters and handing out leaflets for signing up to be an organ donor! By 10am we were finished and I was bundled back into a car to get warm and take me back to my sisters flat where I was staying to warm up and get some rest before the evening commitments!

Filming on westminster bridge
Walking across oxford circus
By lunchtime the team had edited together the mornings work into this amazing thought provoking video!

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!
On Wednesday morning it was another early start ready for my appearance on 'The Wright Stuff' the morning panel show about current events on channel 5 each weekday hosted by Matthew Wright! I was up at 7am ready for the car to collect me and my sister at 8.30am. I'd asked if my sister could come along with me, hoping it would lessen my nerves and be a nice experience to share with her and the guys at the wright stuff hadn't even hesitated to accept my request and welcomed her with open arms! We arrived at the studios where The Wright Stuff is filmed and enjoyed a coffee in the green room before I was taken into make-up to be beautified, the girls worked magic and covered all my spots that had appeared just in time for being on TV! Sods law that! Me and my sister along with the lovely lady from NHS blood and transplant were taken into the studio and met with Matthew in the Ad break before part which we were the focus of! Matthew and the panel were all really nice and I felt a lot less nervous and more comfortable on my second live tv appearance! Again the time flies by and before you know it it's all over! After having a selfie with Matthew I had finished on the show!

Me with Matthew Wright and the lady from NHS blood and transplant
I was whisked off to Viacom studios in Camden for the first screening of my episode of the documentary! It was a lunch time screening and an email had been sent to everyone in the building inviting them to attend the screening, over 30 people crammed into the small meeting room! Guy the commissioner of the 'gift of live' series introduced himself and the series and then I stood and thanked everyone for coming and getting behind the campaign before the programme began. Guy and I were only able to watch the first part of the programme before we had to leave to go to channel 5 HQ for the screening there! The traffic was horrendous because it was lunch time so we arrived slightly late to everyone sat ready and waiting for us eating the pizza we were promised! We quickly sat down and I began scoffing my pizza as the programme began, I was starving!!! It was the first time I had seen the entire episode with all the contributors parts, not just my own, I found it very emotional,  it really does show all aspects of transplant and that it is by far a simple or easy process. If there were more people signed up to be organ donors then the outcomes of the other contributors in my episode could have been so different.

Please, please, please sign up to be an organ donor today at:
https://www.organdonation.nhs.uk/register-to-donate/

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!

Holly
x








Comments

  1. You are such an inspiration and so glad you are doing great. Impressed by your bucket list- you have a lot similar to me! So if you need anyone to tick them off with then let me know!! Marie (28) x

    ReplyDelete
  2. Holly, your story was the main inspiration for my PhD thesis. I'm an Biomedical engineer at Flinders University in South Australia. My thesis was on cystic fibrosis and how we can make CF treatment more effective by using mathematical simulations. I mentioned you a lot in my thesis since I was constantly following your progress though out my PhD. I would like to get intouch with you if possible. Also I would like to send you a copy of my thesis to thank you for making understand CF better. Thank you Holly.

    Cheers,


    Maged

    ReplyDelete
  3. Holly, i watched all your videos- you west through so much and I'm SO happy for you that your new lungs are working and helping you!

    ReplyDelete

Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

New beginnings...

Hello, it's been a while, 18 months or there about since I last posted to this blog.

I don't have any singular reason for the long break there were numerous reasons. I wanted to reclaim some privacy that I felt I had lost through blogging so openly and regularly about my life, I also got caught up in the busy nature of adult life and I never seemed to get the same opportunities to sit and write a blog, if I blog I want to do it properly, not a half hearted attempt. But none of that matters now  because I'm back, with fresh eyes and new ideas on what I want this blog to be, both for myself and you guys reading.

First of all I would like to reassure the many people that have followed my story for the last 6 years that I am alive and well. I am now 2 years, 1 and a half months post transplant which is a fact that boggles my mind, I still have to regularly pinch myself to check it is true and not a figment of my imagination! I still have to attend hospital appointments to moni…

Sleeping beauty, or not!

After being re-ventilated on the Saturday morning 28th February, the doctors had a meeting with my parents explaining the seriousness of my situation and even suggested to them to call my brother who was working on a ski season in Austria and tell him to get the first flight to newcastle because of the high chance I wasn't going to survive. They were told my lungs were completely infected with pseudomonas along with a secondary infection of pneumonia and on top of that I had septicaemia. My X-ray showed my lungs were a total white out, my feet and hands were purple and frozen to the touch, my mum said I was like a corpse. Along with my struggling lungs my heart was at full stretch, I had now had a dangerously hight heart rate of over 170bpm for over 24hours. My mum, dad and sister took it in turns to be by my bedside constantly, holding my hand and talking to me, willing me to get better.
By Sunday morning 1st March, things had took a turn for the worst, my heart rate was still ex…