Inverness triple liver transplant patient dies

Miss McCabe had three liver transplants. Picture: TSPL
Miss McCabe had three liver transplants. Picture: TSPL
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A 31-year-old transplant patient who had three new livers has died - after defying the odds by enjoying Christmas and New Year at home.

Louise McCabe, of Inverness, lost her battle for life at the family home in Inverness on Friday.

She was diagnosed with a rare form of chronic hepatitis — known as autoimmune hepatitis, a disease which causes the immune system to attack the liver — when she was 15 years old.

It took doctors two years to diagnose her condition, which caused cirrhosis, or scarring, of the liver.

Her mother Lizzie Macdonald said it had been special to have her daughter home for the final few days.

She added: “It was amazing. We just couldn’t believe she was being allowed home for Christmas as we were told she had 24 to 48 hours to live.

“We were called to the hospital on 18th December as they thought she was going to pass away that night. But she had a fantastic Christmas — she was sitting on the couch watching Mrs Brown’s Boys roaring with laughter. She was on morphine and should have been flat out but she wasn’t going down without a fight.

“We thought she was going to slip away after Christmas but she proved us all wrong again. It gave us hope, we thought they might have it all wrong. She made Hogmanay and all the family were there. It was like she made it her mission to see Christmas and New Year because from the 1st she just started to go to sleep and it just got deeper and deeper.”

The former Inverness High School pupil, who grew up in Laurel Avenue, Dalneigh, received her first liver transplant more than 10 years ago but her body rejected it.

A second then a third transplant followed, but her condition worsened and doctors discovered the left side of her liver had died along with the main artery carrying blood to the organ. Her family said a fourth transplant was impossible because of the damage caused.

Mrs Macdonald described hearing her daughter’s diagnosis as a moment of disbelief, but said despite years of ill health, it had not stopped her living a full life, working for a time in a city cafe and continuing to play football when she was well and doting on her now three-year-old niece Morgan.

“She never complained and never played on it,” she added. “She was outgoing, with a dry sense of humour.”

Alastair MacGilchrist, a liver specialist based in Edinburgh, explained it was very unusual to receive three liver transplants and in most cases autoimmune hepatitis responds well to drugs without the need for a transplant.

“Although she had a lot of ill health, each transplant gave her a further few years of life, the majority of which were in good health,” he said

Miss McCabe’s family thanked medical staff who helped her, many of whom had become like family, and nurses who made it possible for her to be at home at Christmas.

Miss McCabe, who lived in St Mary’s Road, Kirkhill, leaves behind her parents, stepfather, three brothers, a sister, niece and nephew.

Her funeral takes place on Saturday, with donations being taken for the Liver Transplant Foundation at Edinburgh Royal Infirmary.