Kirstin East

My name is Kirstin and I had my double lung transplant November 2018.
I was diagnosed with CF at 6 months old. I’m 1 of 3 Siblings and the only one with CF.
Life as a child was busy with medicines, physio and hospital visits or admissions but I still did all the things that any normal child would do. I thank my Mum and Dad for keeping it as normal as possible, apart from my 3yr old self taking tablets and really impressing my teachers and baffling my friends.
As I got older my health was (more or less) stable and I only needed IV’s in hospital once or twice a year.
My teenage years were where things slowly changed. I had less energy and increasingly got more and more tired. So much so that I couldn’t keep up in my PE lessons. Sometimes I missed school lessons completely due to chest infections, but I still managed to go out and about with my friends and enjoy doing teenage things.
At 18 I started my career in Childcare and worked my way up to Room Manager and eventually won an award for Outstanding Room Manager, one of my proudest and greatest achievements. Getting into my early 20s is when my health really started to decline. I relied on family and friends to help me with the most basic things, I also got myself a new set of wheels, my wheelchair. I was tired and breathless so really struggled with daily chores and I wasn’t socializing as much. I was having IV’s every couple of months and around my 25th birthday I took the decision to have my first portacath, which I still have. This made having IV’s and blood tests so much easier and less stressful. My veins were giving up as they had had enough things stuck in them already, let alone extra lines for frequent IVs.
Getting into my late 20s, I had zero energy and was constantly tired and breathless so had to give up work, which I was totally gutted about. I was now on IVs at home for 2-3 weeks every month and this was when my Team approached me about a Transplant. I knew from day one this was on the cards. There wasn’t any question about whether I wanted to go through with a transplant, to me it was the only thing that could save me.
So, I went up to Harefield for my assessment. Yes, I was suitable for transplant. In January 2016 I was on the transplant list. The wait wasn’t too bad for me, I didn’t change anything I did, just carried on as normal.
I had 3 false calls, but late 2018 my 4th call came, and it was meant to be. A very brave and selfless person ‘gifted’ me their beautiful lungs, and my life was changed forever. After 3 weeks recovering at Harefield, I went home. I’m now over 6 months post-transplant and my life has significantly changed thanks to my amazing Donor.
3 months after Transplant I ticked the first thing off my bucket list – bikejoring with my 2 Huskies. 1 year on, I’m competing in the N.A.T.B dog sport competition earning myself two 2nd place rosettes. This is something I have always wanted to do, but physically couldn’t. I now have so much energy to go out with my group of friends and absolutely love getting on my rig and letting the dogs run and pull me. I have also driven up to Scotland to visit my brother and to see one of my two Nephews who I have only met twice. I’m no longer the ‘tired breathless’ Aunty I once was, I can now play football, play games and go out ALL day with my Nephew, and NOT get tired or breathless. I don’t have to plan my life around IVs, hospital appointments and how ‘busy’ my day is going to be so I can plan my ‘rest’ period. But the best thing to come of this is that my partner and I can now plan to get married and foster children because we have our whole lives to live now. Just to top things off, I’m also in the early stages of starting my own Childcare Business, only something I could only dream off.
All this would not of been possible without the kind, selfless and brave act of my donor who is my hero and their family, and to them I’ll be forever grateful.
So please share your wishes with family and friends, it really is a gift of life.”