'My new life': Matt’s undying gratitude after liver translant

A NEW LIFE: Matt Wensley, 19, with his mother Jo and organ and tissue donation specialist nurse Sonia Braithwaite are all celebrating the teenager’s successful liver transplant paying tribute to the courage of the donor and their family. Photo: STEVE GOSCH                                                                    0719transplant1

A NEW LIFE: Matt Wensley, 19, with his mother Jo and organ and tissue donation specialist nurse Sonia Braithwaite are all celebrating the teenager’s successful liver transplant paying tribute to the courage of the donor and their family. Photo: STEVE GOSCH 0719transplant1

WHEN the phone rang in the middle of the night for 19-year-old Matt Wensley of Orange, it turned out to be the call that has changed his life.

The teenager has a new outlook on life after a liver transplant at one of Sydney’s major teaching hospitals.

“I was in Canberra when I got the call, and I rang mum straight away - I didn’t know what to do at first,” he said.

The young man who has previously suffered the debilitating effects of a poorly functioning liver, before his transplant often did not have the strength to get out of bed, sleeping long hours as a result of his condition, and unable to engage in physical activity such as sport with his friends.

“I want to make the person who donated my new liver and their family proud and I want to make the most of my new life and achieve as much as I can,” he said.

“The person who has done this for me is a hero in my eyes.”

Several weeks on from his successful transplant Mr Wensley is well enough to resume his university course, studying at Charles Sturt University to become a teacher.

“It is so wonderful to see him so well, but at the same time it is sad to think someone has lost a person near and dear to them,” his mother Jo Wensley said.

Mrs Wensley said when she received a call from her son to say a new liver was waiting for him in Sydney it was hard to believe.

“I got the family organised and my husband Steve and I prepared to head off to Sydney.

“My other son did a wonderful job looking after his sister while we were in Sydney for a few weeks,” she said.

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The young university student came through his 11-hour operation by a specialist transplant team with flying colours.

“I was up and walking in just a couple of days,” he said.

Mrs Wensley says she feels as though she has a new member of the family.

“He gets up early, his colour is great and now he has an appetite.

“I admire the strength of the family who has allowed this to happen for us as it has been wonderful for Matt,” she said.

“And to the fantastic team who did the surgery on Matt our family cannot thank you enough for your care and commitment.”

Organ and tissue donation specialist nurse at Orange hospital Sonia Braithwaite said it is stories such as Matt Hensley’s she hopes will inspire people to think seriously about organ donation.

“I am absolutely delighted for Matt and at the same time we have to be mindful a family has lost a loved one and their compassion and generosity has given Matt a lifestyle he could never have hoped for in the past,” Ms Braithwaite said.

“People need to be mindful there is no longer the option on your licence to indicate you want to be an organ donor,” she said.

For more information about becoming an organ donor go to the webpage for Australian Organ Donor Register.

janice.harris@fairfaxmedia.com

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