Catherine’s Incredible Story Shines a Light on Organ Donation Week

27th September 2022
Catherine and Andi McCarroll with daughter Eve

Dr Catherine McCarroll’s life changed drastically last year when she was told that she required a double lung transplant, less than a month after giving birth to her daughter Eve.

During Organ Donation Awareness Week, Catherine recalls her journey, going from being terminally ill, struggling to walk from her bed to the bathroom, to getting her life back.

Foundation doctor, Catherine McCarroll was diagnosed with a non-specific inflammatory lung disease when she was in medical school, however she continued to be medically stable for many years. However, during the latter part of pregnancy Catherine became increasingly short of breath.

Catherine believed the stress of pregnancy was causing her condition to deteriorate and hoped that after her cesarian section at 34 weeks, she would return to her healthy self. On the 31st March last year, the day baby Eve was brought home, Catherine was informed that she would need to receive a double lung transplant in order to survive.

By December, Catherine was on oxygen around the clock and struggled to leave her bed. Her mental health began to suffer, with her husband Andi becoming her full time carer as well as looking after baby Eve. The decision was then made for Catherine to be transferred to the Freeman Hospital in Newcastle upon Tyne where she would be placed on ECMO, a life support machine whilst waiting for her urgent transplant.

When asked about her feelings during this period, Catherine said “It was a really heart breaking time for us. Being in the throes of life as new parents while one of us was dying was harder than you could ever imagine.”

On the 16th January this year, Catherine received a double lung transplant that transformed her life, all thanks to organ donation. Since then Catherine has made a full recovery, insisting that she feels better than ever. She is able to fully enjoy motherhood, being able to chase after Eve in the park, something she never thought she’d be able to do this time last year.

When asked about Organ Donation Week, Catherine said “Organ donation honestly wasn’t something I ever really thought about, even as a doctor. I think until you hear someone’s story you don’t really grasp how life changing it can be, that’s why I’m choosing to share my story.”

Specialist Nurse in Organ Donation, Ciara McDowell has said, “Make the time during Organ Donation Week to talk to your friends and family about organ donation.  I can’t stress enough the importance of discussing your wishes. It is a simple conversation that could save a life in the future.”

Organ Donation Week 2022 runs from 26th September to the 2nd October aiming to provide awareness to the public on the important decision of organ donation.