Three days to live without a transplant ... look at me now
MUM-OF-THREE Diana Higman will never forget the time doctors said they had three days to find her a new liver – or she would die.
Two days passed and she lay desperately ill. Luckily, a liver that belonged to a pensioner in Scotland became available on the third night.
"If I hadn't got it that night I wouldn't have made it," said Diana, who turned 50 yesterday.
She had always been fit and healthy and had been training as a nurse when she was struck down with a rare liver disease, auto-immune hepatitis, in August 2008.
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The condition makes the body's immune system attack liver cells.
Diana, of Allestree Lane, Allestree, said: "I deteriorated so quickly.
"Before the transplant operation, I could barely write my own name because my liver was not cleaning out toxins properly and they were just running around my body."
It took months for Diana to recover after the transplant but eventually she returned to good health.
So much so that she took part in the 2010 World Transplant Games, held in Sweden, and won a bronze medal in cycling.
The tournament is held every two or three years and sees more than 1,500 transplant patients from 55 countries take part in 20 sports.
Diana said that her transplant was the reason she was still around to enjoy life.
And she is backing the Derby Telegraph's Save A Life campaign, which also aims to find 500 new blood donors across Derbyshire.
She said: "I often say to people, put yourself in the same position. If you needed an organ, you certainly would take one.
"I'm told there is more chance of a person needing a transplant than there is of that person becoming a donor.
"If you put it in that perspective, it's quite scary.
"Everyone should sign up to the donor register. It takes no time at all.
"If it wasn't for my donor, my three children would not now have a mum."
Diana is planning to take part in the next World Transplant Games, due to be held in South Africa at the end of July.
She needs to raise about £2,000 and so has organised a masquerade ball, which is now sold out and will take place at the Mackworth Hotel on March 9.
She said: "The ball is to raise money for the UK Transplant team. I fly out on Friday, July 26, and it starts on the Sunday.
"I am cycling in the road race and time trial, representing the UK. This time I'm going for gold."