A teacher’s life was saved after a pupil noticed her eyes were a ‘funny colour’ – leading her to discover she had liver failure.
Primary school teacher Emma Gregson said she was used to hearing her pupils come out with bizarre comments so didn’t take the nine-year-old too seriously.
But when she later looked in the mirror she realised he was right.
Ms Gregson, 36, visited her GP who initially thought it was a problem with her gall bladder.
But when her symptoms worsened, she was referred to hospital where scans revealed her liver had failed.
She was told she had just a week to live without a transplant.
Primary school teacher Emma Gregson hadn’t thought much of it at the time but was told by doctors she needed a liver transplant or would die within days
‘It was very frightening to be told you only have seven days to live, I cried’ she said.
‘It is a strange situation to be in as everything is out of your control and you can’t do anything.
‘All I could do is put my trust into the medical staff and try and be cheerful and positive about it all.’
Ms Gregson of Chorley, Lancashire, said she noticed the whites of her eyes had turned yellow and her skin had a yellowish tinge after her pupil made the comment.
She booked an appointment with her GP who told her she might have a problem with her gall bladder, which can lead to signs of jaundice.
‘I had always been fine and healthy before then so I was not unduly worried,’ she said.
‘This was in the middle of September 2012 and I had also been feeling quite tired.
‘However, I had just started my new job so I put the tiredness down to this.’
But she started to go downhill rapidly with her symptoms becoming more pronounced.
Her stomach became sore and her legs were itchy – both signs of liver failure.
She returned to her GP, who sent her straight to hospital.
She had two false alarms where doctors thought they had a liver for her before she received a successful transplant in 2012
Scans revealed her liver was shrunken, hard and not working properly.
She was transferred to St James Hospital in Leeds, West Yorkshire, which has a specialist liver transplant centre and she was there for three weeks.
During her stay there specialists tried her on different medications and monitored her.
But despite their efforts, she continued to deteriorate and doctors gave her just seven days to live without a liver transplant.
Ms Gregson was twice told a donor organ had been found but was left disappointed when tests revealed they were not a suitable match.
So when doctors said they had another liver for her, she tried not to get her hopes up.
This time the liver transplant went ahead during surgery which took about six hours.
She managed to get out of bed and walk within a day of the surgery and was at home just nine days after the transplant.
Doctors believe Ms Gregson actually had auto immune hepatitis, where cells called lymphocytes think cells in the liver are foreign, so attack and destroy them.
Ms Gregson was given just a week to live without a transplant but has gone back to work after receiving a donor liver
Following her transplant, she returned to work part-time six months later.
‘The school, staff and pupils were very good and supportive,’ she said.
‘I talked about what happened to me and the transplant quite openly at school and explained it to people.
‘It was a bit of a shock for the pupils but they have been really good and are always very careful with germs and use hand gel as they know my immune system is lowered because of the anti-rejection medication I am on.
‘The school has also raised money for St James Hospital as recognition for my transplant and treatment.’
All she knows about her donated liver is that it came from a young man who had an accident.
She has written to his family to express how thankful she is for the gift of life.
Ms Gregson has shared her story to encourage others to sign the organ donor register.
Visit www.organdonation.nhs.uk or call 0300 123 23 23.