Blandford man planning Jaguar jaunt after transplant surgery

A MAN from Blandford whose drinks after a stressful day at work ended up damaging his liver recently became one of 2,500 people who have received a transplant at a world-famous London hospital.

David Bland is among the thousands to have undergone a transplant operation at the Royal Free Hospital (RFH) since the service began in 1988.

The rate of transplantation has accelerated in recent years – except during Covid-19.

Thanks to advances in medicine more livers, which previously had to be rejected, can now be harnessed.

Despite this success, the need for transplantable livers is also growing, partly due to the nation’s expanding waistlines and high alcohol consumption, both of which can result in cirrhosis – permanent scarring that ultimately damages the liver.

And David is one of the most recent people to receive a liver transplant.

The 68-year-old went into A&E with stomach pains in 2019 and scans revealed a tumour in his liver – and cirrhosis as well.

“I’d been coming home every night after working long hours – I was director level running a printing company – and I’d open a bottle of wine to have with dinner and then finish the bottle,” he said.

“Doing that every night over the years clearly affected my liver.”

Initially David, who worked for Blackmore Press and immediately stopped drinking after getting his cancer diagnosis, received treatment to limit the growth of the tumour.

For a while, it seemed the tumour had not only stopped growing but was also shrinking.

“After 850 days on the transplant list I was expecting to be told I would be coming off – but instead they discovered more tumours,” he went on.

“Nine days later, I had a phone call to say they had a donor liver available and I was blue lighted into the Royal Free Hospital.”

After undergoing surgery and spending a day in intensive care and nine days on a high dependency ward, David was discharged.

“Since getting home I have felt fantastic,” he said. “My energy and my appetite has come back and I’m slowly getting my strength back.

“I want the family of the donor to know that their actions and those of the donor have given me a new lease of life and years that I wouldn’t have had otherwise.

“I am very, very, very grateful.

David Bland is now planning a trip around Europe in a Jaguar!

David Bland is now planning a trip around Europe in a Jaguar!

“I also want to thank the Royal Free Hospital who have done a wonderful job. It’s just amazing how many different people and specialisms are involved.

“The information given to me by the consultants and the team was everything I needed and my transplant liver co-ordinator Dee was absolutely brilliant.”

David now has his heart set on a new adventure.

He said: “My next plan is to buy a Jaguar and tour Europe. I can’t wait.”

Doug Thorburn, consultant hepatologist and divisional director for liver transplantation and digestive health, said: “I’m delighted to hear David is doing so well and living life to the full.

“I want to congratulate past and present members of the liver transplant team and all the teams that support us.

“We have come so far in the last 35 years but we still face a shortage of donor livers and patients still often wait a very long time on the waiting list.

“I’d also like to thank everyone for embracing the different technologies available, including the perfusion team, surgical colleagues, our transplant co-ordinators on the wards and theatre staff.

“This has enabled us to increase the numbers of people receiving a transplant because we have more time available to get things in place and we also have a longer time to evaluate the donor liver which helps us build a better picture of whether the liver is suitable.”

He added: “We know there is a lot more still that we can explore such as researching new portable perfusion devices and finding ways to improve the utilisation of the livers we currently have to reject.

“We continue to push forward with research.”

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I am the editor in chief of Blackmore Vale media, which includes the New Blackmore Vale, New Stour & Avon, Salisbury & Avon Gazette and the Purbeck Gazette, having been a reporter for some 20 years. In my spare time, I am a festival lover, with a particular focus on Glastonbury. I live in Somerset with my wife and two children.