Jane's Friend Noticed Her Eyes Were Yellow, 12 Hours Later She Was Fighting For Her Life
Jane Sinclair was living a very busy, but perfectly healthy, lifestyle until one of her friends pointed out that something wasn't quite right.
The 55-year-old told 10 daily that she was working four days a week at a real estate agency and looking after her elderly parents as well as fitting in cooking, cleaning, running and yoga.
I guess I was a little bit tired, but a girlfriend at work said, 'Jane, your eyes are yellow', and I said, 'No they're not!'
Jane went to the bathroom and could see that the whites of her eyes weren't their usual colour, but brushed it off and thought she might just need to drink some more water.
"About 12 hours later, my skin was turning yellow and I went back to work but I had a sleep and I thought 'That's ridiculous, why am I sleepy?'"
Realising something might be wrong, Jane went to Cabrini Hospital in Malvern, Victoria -- but was still in denial about the seriousness of her condition.
"I felt I was okay. I couldn't see what the issue was, I was thinking, 'Oh what am I doing here?'" she told 10 daily.
Two nights later, she was shipped off to the liver transplant unit at The Austin Hospital, with doctors telling her daughters Lucy (25) and Lily (23) that, although they couldn't find the cause, they suspected Jane's liver was failing.
"Mum was super, super yellow," Lucy told 10 daily.
"And then she just started deteriorating and got really slow. It's called hepatic encephalopathy -- when your liver can't process the toxins, it starts affecting your conscious state," Lucy said.
"Because mum had such acute failure, and it was so out of the blue and so quick and so crazy, they basically put her at the top of the liver transplant list for all of Australia and New Zealand," she explained.
Jane was hooked up to a liver dialysis machine to try and clean out some of the toxins from her liver as her family spent a "crazy" 24 hours waiting for a transplant for their mum.
"And then we got a call from the registrar, saying, 'We've found a liver, it's coming down from Queensland, your mum's going into surgery at two o'clock that afternoon on Friday," explained Lucy.
It had only been just over a week since her first symptoms began, and now Jane was undergoing an 11-hour liver transplant surgery with doctors still baffled as to what had caused the organ failure.
Jane awoke the next day, at first unable to remember how she'd ended up in hospital, or even what year it was, tossing up between 2018 and 2019 when asked by an ICU nurse.
"I didn't remember anything. I thought, 'Liver, what are you talking about? I haven't had a liver transplant, I don't feel like I've had a liver transplant'.
"And then my brother came in with a coffee and saw me sitting in the chair and said, 'Well, that was close!'"
Jane got home 15 weeks ago and is recovering well, having her last T Tube removed at Austin just last week. She's in the middle of writing a thank you note to her liver donor's family, for the life-giving gift she received.
I'm just going to say how thankful I am because if they hadn't have turned that life support off that person that was in their family, I wouldn't be here today and my children wouldn't have a mother.
"And that's very scary, in my perspective, because I had no memory and I couldn't have said goodbye to my girls, or my brother, and that haunts me."
Jane's near-death experience has had a huge impact not only on her own life but her extended family and friends.
"Well, I'm of course an organ donor, so is Lucy and Lily and I think that's fantastic. I mean, thank God, that family were organ donors. Or as I said, I would not be here today," Jane said.
In 2018, 1,782 patients received transplants from 554 deceased and 238 living organ donors in their families, per figures from the Minister responsible for Organ and Tissue authority, Mark Coulton.
At the moment, there are more than 1,400 Australians on the wait list for lifesaving transplants with a further 11,000 on dialysis.
Jane poignantly added that when she was unconscious and near death, "there wasn't much there". She explained, "There weren't any white angels, and there wasn't any bugles or little fluffy white clouds."
"So donating your organs to save a loved one's life, I think is the most important thing you can ever do in your life."
Donate Life Week is running from Sunday July 29 to Sunday August 4. You can register online at donatelife.gov.au -- all you need is your Medicare card.
Featured image: Supplied