Dual organ transplant gave Cork man William Mills a second chance at life – ‘I can now look ahead to healthy future’

Mallow man William Mills received a duel kidney and pancreas transplant in 2022

Dual transplant recipient William Mills - “I owe it to my donor who gave me this second chance at life, to live the best life I can.”

Bill BrowneCorkman

A Mallow man who was given “a second chance at life” following a combined kidney and pancreas transplant has said he owes a debt to his donor “to live the best life I can.”

In 1996, when he was just 15, William Mills was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes, a chronic condition where the pancreas produces little or no insulin, a hormone the body naturally produces to allow glucose (sugar) to enter cells and produce energy.

Despite extensive research into the condition there is no cure, so it has to be managed by taking regular shots of insulin and diet to keep blood sugar levels as normal as possible to delay or prevent complications.

Following his diagnosis William had to self-administer insulin injections four times a day for almost two-decades.

“The diabetes forced me to grow up very quickly, become independent and above all, made me realise that I had to take care of myself,” he said during a presentation he made at St Vincent’s Hospital in Dublin marking the annual Organ Donor Awareness Week campaign, which ran from May 20-27.

In 2013 William, who had worked for years in management roles as well as being self-employed for a while, received an insulin pump for his diabetes and four years later a sensor, both of which helped him control his sugar levels.

“I felt more empowered and in control of my diabetes which in turn gave me more confidence to try to lead a normal life,” said William.

However, as his health declined and his kidneys started to fail, a common progression for people with diabetes, William was forced to take on less physically demanding roles and he took up a job working in a local SuperValu store.

By 2017 his health has started to seriously deteriorate and after his kidney function reduced to 45%, William ended up spending four-months in hospital.

Although he made a good recovery, his kidney function subsequently reduced to 25% and when the Covid pandemic struck, his employer agreed to give William extended leave as he was deemed to be in the high-risk category for potential infection.

By the spring of 2021, his kidney function had reduced to 10% and, as he was about to start dialysis treatment, William was put on the transplant list.

“Fortunately I was only on the waiting list for a short while when I received a call, out of the blue, early in the 2022 telling me to come to St Vincent’s Hospital for my combined kidney and pancreas transplant,.”

While a setback five-days after the delicate procedure required a small operation to resolve a bleed in the valve to the newly transplanted kidney, William was discharged from hospital within a fortnight.

“While I encountered a few other health setbacks in the months that followed and my post-op recovery was slow. I wasn’t overly concerned as the medical staff had prepared me for this in advance of the operation and reassured me that this was not unusual,” said William.

Now fully recovered, William said she now feels “so much better than ever before.”

“I can now look ahead to healthy future free from diabetes and kidney failure. I have left behind all the social, lifestyle and dietary restrictions that come with those conditions which deny you a decent quality of life,” he said.

“I can spend more quality time with my family, who have been hugely supportive, and my friends, enjoying a normal life – something I thought I would never get back,” said William.

“I was delighted to return to work with SuperValu, who have also been really supportive, last November. Being able to work, meet people, and to properly function and contribute to society, is really important to me,” he added.

While acknowledging the work of the doctors, surgeons and nurses who helped along the way, William had sincere words of thanks for his donor and their family, who he said were “in my thoughts everyday”.

“I owe it to my donor who gave me this second chance at life, to live the best life I can,” said William.

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