Canning Town man gets hospital’s 2,000th liver transplant

David Edgell received his liver Christmas 2018 and is excited for his second chance. Picture: Adam

David Edgell received his liver Christmas 2018 and is excited for his second chance. Picture: Adam Scott/Royal Free Hospital. - Credit: Adam Scott/Royal Free Hospital

David Edgell is ‘incredibly grateful’ to the family who gave him their loved one’s liver.

The Canning Town native is now excited to get on with his second chance at life after getting the 2,000th liver transplanted by the Royal Free Hospital in Hampstead.

David started drinking after a quick succession of deaths in the family. The loss of his father, grandfather and grandmother left him alone in his flat.

He went to the local pub for dinner three or four times a week, a habit that eventually destroyed his liver.

“I didn’t really drink that much before that and held down a responsible job. I never missed work and I wouldn’t say I was ever really drunk and didn’t go to work with a hangover,” he said.


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Finally, his body began to swell severely and, at Newham University Hospital, he was diagnosed with cirrhosis of the liver—one so scarred it stops working correctly.

“I’d been depressed but this really shocked me. I felt upset thinking that I’d let down my family and I’d brought this on myself.

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“In actual fact, I’d stopped drinking a couple of months before I even became ill, but it was too late.”

Specialist alcohol nurses assess all liver transplant patients and work with them before and after surgery to make sure that they take care of their new organ.

To get on the transplant list, you have to show that you are committed to being alcohol-free. David was listed in summer 2018.

At Christmas, he was told to come to the hospital in Hampstead as soon as possible.

“I’d had my bag packed for the best part of a year.

“I felt my loved ones were looking down on me and things would be okay.”

After a successful transplant, David is focused on getting back to work, playing guitar again and visiting his son in Mexico.

Dr Yiannis Kallis, honorary consultant transplant hepatologist, said that it is common misconception that only serious alcoholics need help with their drinking: “David is far more representative of the people we see.”

He urged people to count how many units they drink, and cut back if they exceed guidelines.

You can sign on to the organ donor register at www.organdonation.nhs.uk.

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