A mum who was given a double lung-transplant after she became desperately ill while pregnant with twins has struck up a friendship with the daughter of the woman who gave her a new lease of life.
Jane Holmes, 43, was diagnosed with pulmonary primary hypertension while carrying Alfie and Maisie and, despite doctors’ hopes, she deteriorated quickly after giving birth at 28 weeks and was put on the transplant list.
The mum from Hornsea, East Yorks., described the incredibly difficult time as “a blur” as she dealt with two newborns while feeling really poorly.
Ms Holmes said: “I was very depressed, it’s not a time I like to relive.
“I was really poorly and my life just deteriorated. I couldn’t walk up the stairs and had to have a bed and a commode in the living room.
“The time before my transplant is all a blur, it was a tough time. I’m so grateful to have received my lungs, it’s been a hard recovery, but I’m doing well now.”
Fortunately for Ms Holmes she received a call telling her a double-lung transplant donation was available but described the whole situation as “quite clinical”.
Ms Holmes said: “At the time it was all quite clinical – it was only after I began to recover I started to think about it and that I wanted to say thank you.
“Thank you doesn’t really seem to cover how I feel.”
It was then that she decided to write a letter to the family of her donor, Tish Murtha and was amazed when Tish’s daughter, Ella, wrote back.
Ms Holmes said: “I didn’t know who I was writing to, didn’t know whether they had a family or anything but Ella wrote back.”
Tish hadn’t actually been on the donor register; however, because she was only 57 when she died Ella wanted to turn the desperate tragedy into a story of hope.
Ms Holmes said: “Ella told me she had decided to try and use her tragedy to help other people.”
The communication continued when, at Christmas, Ms Holmes’ daughter Maisie decided to send Ella a card.
Ms Holmes said at first she didn’t know what her young daughter had written but later discovered her beautiful words.
She said: “I found out that Maisie wrote to Ella saying, ‘Thank you for letting your mum help my mum’.
“And it snowballed from there really.”
Earlier this year, Ms Holmes and Ella decided to meet for the first time in a get together that Ms Holmes described as “emotional”.
She said: “It’s difficult to know how to describe it. There were tears and there was laughter. It was very emotional.”
Following that first meet, Ella and Ms Holmes have met on a number of occasions and she has also met another woman who received Tish’s kidney and pancreas.
The three of them have affectionately dubbed themselves the “unbiological sisters”.
Ms Holmes said: “It’s great to be in touch with Ella and Teresa who received two of Tish’s other organs.
“I think Ella and her mum are amazing and Teresa is lovely. The three of us have become really close.”
Ms Holmes is now urging others to join the organ donation register and to inform their families of their choice.
Ms Holmes said: “It was because of this organ donation that I’m still here.”