KATE Hansen has battled for almost six years to stay alive but the 31-year-old accepts she may not live to see Christmas next year.
“I realise not every story has a happy ending and I’ve come to terms with that,” the Melbourne resident told news.com.au.
“Everything is organised but that doesn’t mean I won’t stop trying.”
Kate, also known as “Kitty” to her friends and family, has struggled with her health for years. She was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes when she was three years old and had issues all through her 20s.
When she was 25 she got a virus while she was overseas and her kidney function never returned to normal. After experiencing issues with her vision she found out her kidney function had dropped to less than 25 per cent.
But the real blow to her health came in 2013 when she had a car accident that left her in a coma for 13 days.
“I had to learn to walk and talk again and it’s still an ongoing process,” she said.
“I’m cognitively challenged, I struggle to dress myself and I trip over all the time.”
Kate needs a kidney and pancreas transplant to prolong her life and both transplants have to happen at the same time.
She has been on and off the organ waiting list for six years. She gets taken off the list each time her health deteriorates. This has happened to her 16 times.
“If something happens it goes on pause again and that’s what is so hard,” she said.
“The longest I’ve been on is about four months.”
Kate’s struggles are featured in the new documentary Dying To Live which explores the issue of organ donation in Australia.
Over the years Kate has suffered through pancreatitis and the amputation of one of her toes. She needs to have dialysis three times a week, for four to five hours each time. She is constantly falling over and needs to vomit from the moment she wakes up until she goes to bed.
“As a result of the car accident and what happened to me, two years later I was diagnosed with PTSD and depression — I’d never had a mental issue before — but I tried to commit suicide three times,” she said. “I was in a very dark place after the accident.”
Kate is now back on track after getting psychological help and embracing a new role advocating for organ and tissue donation as an ambassador for Zaidee’s Rainbow Foundation.
“Being an ambassador has saved my life,” she said. “It gave me purpose.”
Last October she got engaged to her partner Zac Cole and hopes to one day set a wedding date but it all depends on whether she can get the transplant she needs.
Her body is no longer coping after six years of being on dialysis and doctors have warned her to prepare for the worst.
“I went into cardiac arrest twice in one year, in June last year and July this year,” she said.
“My doctors have said if I don’t have a transplant this year, I won’t see Christmas next year.”
As of two weeks ago, Kate is back on the waiting list and she’s hoping this time will be her last.
“If I got a transplant, it would change everything,” she said. “Not only for me but for my family and friends. At the moment my life is on hold. I can’t work or really be by myself in case I fall over.
“I can’t dance at my engagement party, I can’t swim in a swimming pool, I can’t travel.
“The transplant should stabilise my blood pressure so I’m not falling over as much, I will have energy and won’t be worn out. At the moment I can only walk 100m and then I have to stop.”
After the transplant Kate finally hopes to set a date for her wedding.
“At the moment I’m too weak. I can’t stand up properly by myself and I can’t enjoy the day,” she said.
“The transplant will not only give me more years but it will be amazing for my family and friends because they can relax and enjoy their lives.”
News.com.au is supporting DonateLife Week and encouraging people to register on the Australian Organ Donor Register.
There are about 1400 people on the organ transplant waiting list at any one time and people generally wait between six months to four years for surgery.
Sadly, 35 people died while on the waiting list in 2016 and only 48 per cent (1488 patients) of the more than 3000 Australians who needed an organ were able to undergo a lifesaving transplant.
If you or someone you know is in need of crisis or suicide prevention support, please call Lifeline on 13 11 14 or visit www.lifeline.org.au/gethelp
Dying To Live will be screened at the Melbourne International Film Festival on August 14 and 16 and will open nationally in cinemas in November 2018.
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