￼Here, Lucinda Simpson, 38, tells the story in her own words.
Dating Damon for a few weeks, it was time to confess.
Born with cystic fibrosis I always knew that one day I’d need a lung transplant. But my condition had got so bad, my liver had also deteriorated and I needed a new one of those, too. Thumping as I confided in Damon, my heart worked perfectly fine but docs said it was easier to replace all three organs in one go.
‘I’m going to have a heart, lung and liver transplant,’ I told him.
My condition had scared off men in the past, so I was nervous, butI needn’t have worried. ‘Even if you had no arms or legs and you were just a head, I’d buy you awesome hats for Christmas,’ Damon said, deadpan. He’s a keeper! I thought, bursting into fits of laughter.
Ten months later, Damon proposed on my 24th birthday. Excited about our future, we asked my pre-transplant team if I’d ever be able to carry a baby.
‘It’s unlikely you’ll survive long enough to have a family,’ we were told. Damon didn’t budge. ‘As long as I’m with you, I don’t care – if we can have kids, that’s a bonus,’ he reassured me.
Then, with our wedding just four months away, Damon and I were tucking into spag bol for dinner when I got the call. I’d be getting my transplant tonight, making me Australia’s first female triple transplant recipient. Better yet, at the same time, I could donate my healthy ticker to someone who needed it.
Although incredible, it felt bittersweet. To give me a chance, someone had lost their life. I was happy I could pass it forward by donating my heart.
In theatre, I looked around fascinated. ‘What does that do?’ I asked, curious, as I spotted various surgical instruments.
In and out of hospitals all my life, I wasn’t squeamish.
‘That’s going to separate your rib cage. And this machine will be your heart and lungs, breathing for you while we operate,’ a surgeon explained. ‘That’s so cool!’ I exclaimed.
Then I had an idea. ‘Can I keep my old organs in a jar?’ I asked.But the surgeon gently suggested I donate them to medical science instead, which sounded like a much better idea!
Thankfully, the 12-hour operation was a success. Marrying Damon four months later, I felt better than ever. And even though I’d been told that I’d never be a mum, I was determined to prove them wrong!
Still, I didn’t want to push my luck, so I didn’t mention it to my doctor until five years after my transplant. Thankfully, he thought that carrying a baby wouldn’t be a risk to my life. But it wasn’t as easy as just trying to get pregnant. The cocktail of meds I took each day had to be carefully assessed to make sure it wouldn’t cause birth defects or miscarriage.
Then, my heart, lung and liver function had to be tested rigorously. It took years of preparation.
Sadly, when we did start trying, nothing happened. We began to consider adoption, surrogacy and fostering. Maybe I will never be a mum, I thought.
By now, Damon and I had been married for 11 years. I tried to stay positive, but what if I’d denied him the chance to be a father?
We’d just celebrated our 12th wedding anniversary last October, when a routine blood test revealed I was pregnant!
So surprised, Damon and I both burst into happy tears.
The day before my 20-week scan, our bub kicked for the first time. Then, the next day, 13 years after my transplant, we found out we were having a baby boy!
Our bub was delivered by emergency caesarean at 28 weeks. We’d been warned that transplant mums very rarely go to term, but this was way earlier than we’d expected. ‘Thank God,’ I breathed, as I heard our miracle baby cry for the first time. He sounded like a cute little lamb!
Weighing just 832 grams, he was whisked to the NICU with his daddy by his side.
I didn’t get to see our son, who we decided to call Angus, for 24 hours. Even then, I could only place my hands on our tiny tot.
I finally got to cuddle him when he was 11 days old.
Then, after 87 days, when Angus had reached 2.6 kilos, we got to take our chunky monkey home.
Now five months, Angus is the happiest baby. ‘Hey, you want to do it again?’ I teased Damon. ‘I think we’ve been blessed with one,’ he laughed back.
Angus is a miracle, but his birth also made history.
Incredibly, doctors can find no other cases of a baby born to a woman after a heart, lung and liver transplant.
Without my donor, none of it would be possible. Because of them, I’ve received, given and created the gift of life. It truly is a miracle.
To join the donor register visit donatelife.gov.au
Read more in this week's issue of that's life, on sale now.