I’m terrified I could die in months because selfish anti-vaxxers are stopping me from getting life-saving transplant

AS millions of us get ready for Christmas, Lara Wahab fears it could be her last.

With NHS beds taken up by coronavirus patients, the 34-year-old is among thousands awaiting life-changing surgery – and worries those refusing the vaccination are handing her a death sentence.


This week, we reported that nine out of 10 people in critical care wards have not had the Covid jab amid the rampant spread of Omicron.

The news is another blow to Lara, who was diagnosed with end-stage kidney failure two years ago due to Type 1 Diabetes and has faced delays for a double transplant.

She claims multiple kidney and pancreas matches have been found for her but they were turned down because the NHS was struggling to keep up with Covid patients.

Lara, from Crouch End, London, told The Sun: “I feel like I’m running out of time and that I’m hanging over the edge of a cliff.

“My doctor told me, ‘Sometimes we do get offers for you but we don’t always tell you for various reasons, sometimes the organs aren’t good but to be honest it’s really affected by Covid.’"

'One in three like me don't survive the year'

The advertising account director has lived with Type 1 Diabetes, which is not caused by lifestyle or dietary choices, for 25 years and recently has seen her health rapidly decline.

The normal eGFR range, which measures the kidney's ability to filter waste, is over 60 and below 15 could mean kidney failure – Lara’s hovers between nine and 10.

Doctors say “it’s a miracle” she’s not already on dialysis, which she’s fearful of as 32 per cent of people don’t survive the year and the average life expectancy is five to 10 years.

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As Lara faces further delays, she feels pushed out by anti-vaxxers who risk her life and delay hospital treatement for between four to six million others.

“Hospital resources are being really affected by Covid and they are prioritising Covid on the ICU units," she says.

“You can’t have a Covid patient next to a transplant patient because they need large doses of immunosuppressants to stop their body rejecting the organ.

“You’re incredibly susceptible to even a normal cold, which can be dangerous, so you can imagine if a person caught Covid they would probably die.

“I would never normally advocate for people having treatment because it’s their life choice but their decisions are affecting whether I get to live – it’s unjust and devastating.

“It’s so hard to find good, healthy organs that aren’t fatty and meet all of my criteria, yet I’m being denied them on the basis of logistical issues, which is absolutely horrendous.

“It’s heartbreaking for hospitals having to make the decision to turn down a good offer too, which they don’t do lightly, but it’s all they can do to free up space in the wards.”

'Lucky not to be in coma'

Lara was seven when she was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes, which stops the pancreas from producing insulin to break down glucose so it can enter the bloodstream.

It was picked up after she lost a lot of weight and her blood sugar was so high that doctors told her family they “couldn’t believe” she “wasn’t in a coma.”

Over the years, she’s battled the crippling side-effects of the condition and overcome two near-death experiences, which nearly left her blind and needing her foot amputated.

Lara, who is half Irish and half Iraqi, said: “I nearly died in 2011, I got a urine infection that turned into a more serious infection where I had abscesses on one of my kidneys.

“One day, I woke up and couldn’t read. My eyesight was deteriorating because of diabetes, it was terrifying.

“Over the next two years, I needed constant treatment including surgery to cut open my eye to work on my blood vessels and multiple injections into each eye.

“Another time, a blister on my foot turned into a bone infection and they thought I was going to lose my foot.”

I’m hanging on and determined not to let this beat me even when I’m feeling my lowest, crying on my own and feeling like I can’t go on

In 2019, Lara was told her kidneys were failing and that her best chance of survival was a kidney and pancreas transplant – in the hope it would cure her diabetes.

But as Covid swept the nation last year, the transplant list was suspended and when it was briefly reactivated she nervously waited for the hospital to call.

In April she was listed as a back-up for two transplants, but she wasn’t lucky enough to receive the organs.

“When you get calls around the same time, you know you’re nearing the top of the list for your specific criteria, but then I didn’t hear anything,” she explains.

After a while, Lara called one of her doctors who she claims told her viable organs had been rejected due to Covid patients taking up ICU beds.

The news was devastating, more so as she had spent much of the last two years shielding because she is vulnerable due to her condition.

All the while, Lara’s health continues to worsen and she suffers extreme exhaustion, swelling in her legs, brain fog, nausea and itchiness that "keeps me awake at night”.

She says: “It’s terrifying noticing how much I’ve deteriorated, I’m normally sharp, coherent and have always been into my studies but now that’s all changed.

“Words evade me due to the toxins building up in my blood and I feel like I’m losing a part of myself as my body deteriorates from the inside.”


'Too scared to leave the house'

Lara’s mental health has taken a hit too and she’s scared of going outside after hearing the news that a third of people in London are not vaccinated.

She explains: “The pandemic has been hard for ‘normal’ people but those with chronic illnesses have it 100 times worse.

“I need to go to the post office to send Christmas presents but I can’t because it’s too busy and I’m terrified of going into supermarkets to get what I need.

“I’m also struggling to sleep at night because I keep hoping I will get the call for a transplant and then every morning I wake up disappointed.”

Lara credits her supportive family and friends with keeping her sane and motivated during this difficult period as well as help from Kidney Care UK.

She’s been trying to keep hopeful and often practises positive affirmations to give her the belief that she “can do it”.

“I’m hanging on and determined not to let this beat me even when I’m feeling my lowest, crying on my own and feeling like I can’t go on,” Lara says.

“There’s always a little thing that tells me to get over myself and to keep going because I’ve got more to offer and to give, it keeps me hopeful.

“I have really bad days when I’ve felt all the emotions and get angry but I try to move past it and remember all the people who love me. That’s why I keep on going.”

Plea to anti-vaxxers

Lara’s kidney function is “dangerously low” at the moment and she stresses that the delays caused by a strain of ICU resources not only affects her but “thousands of others”.

She hopes people will realise “there are people behind the data” and urges those who haven’t been vaccinated to get jabbed.

It follows a call from Prime Minister Boris Johnson to get boosted – and join the thousands who have joined The Sun's Jabs Army of volunteers, details of which can be found below.

She adds: “If I could say one thing to anti-vaxxers it would be to take a step back and listen to science, misinformation spreads too easily online.

“My personal plea would be to really think about your actions, they are having very, very big consequences that are devastating and detrimental to other people.

“Having access to the vaccination is a privilege and getting it is the least you can do to support our wonderful NHS who have acted so selflessly throughout the pandemic.

“Getting it is a small price to pay to say thanks to everyone who has sacrificed time with their families to work in hospital wards and care homes.”

For more information about Kidney Care UK or to support their work visit: www.kidneycareuk.org.

HOW TO JOIN

VOLUNTEERS can register online at nhsvolunteerresponders.org.uk or by scanning the QR code above with your smartphone.

You will be asked to download the GoodSAM Responder app, which will match you to a role.

You need commit to only two six-hour shifts a month at a jabs centre. Your expenses will be covered and no ex­perience or qualifications are needed.

You will be in a team  with  NHS   staff and volunteers. The Royal Voluntary Service will make appropriate background checks.

GO TO: nhsvolunteerresponders.org.uk


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