To Lapland, thanks to life-saving transplant

Zoe and Katy
Zoe and Katy

A mum who has had a life-saving double lung transplant is celebrating by taking her daughter to Lapland to see Father Christmas.

Zoe Sutherland, from Winslow, is enjoying a new lease of life, thanks to the operation in January.

For the first time in over a decade she can travel by plane and can take her daughter Katy, 10, on a foreign holiday.

Before the transplant, she had to be connected to an oxygen supply virtually all the time and doctors were amazed she had survived so long.

Zoe, aged 50, told the Advertiser: “It’s something I’ve wanted to do for years but you have to fly – there’s no other way to get there.”

Zoe, who believes the donated organs came from a young girl added: “I’m very grateful to the donor family.

“I wouldn’t be anywhere without them.

“I can never thank them enough, not just for me but for Katy.”

Zoe was diagnosed with the rare, degenerative lung disease lymphangioleiomyomatosis (LAM) in 2003, when she was pregnant with Katy.

Despite being rushed into hospital when her lung collapsed 16 weeks into the pregnancy, Katy was delivered safe and well by caesarean section at 38 weeks.

But by the time she came home from hospital, Zoe needed to be connected to an oxygen supply almost all the 

At home, an oxygen concentrator was plugged into the wall, with leads long enough to reach into every room.

She also had a concentrator installed at Aylesbury Vale District Council (AVDC), where she worked as a senior accountant, and carried spare oxygen cylinders in her car with her at all times.

Doctors put Zoe’s name forward for a double lung transplant in 2010, and she finally had the 15-hour operation at Harefield Hospital, in Uxbridge, on January 20.

And the grateful mum, who is treasurer of Winslow and Buckingham Breathe Easy group, urged more people to sign up to the organ donor register.

She said: “So many people die waiting for an organ transplant every year.

“I’d like to encourage people and to make families aware that, although it’s hard that they may have lost a loved one, they can help someone to have a new life with their loved ones.”

With her new lungs, she can now breathe unaided, although she will have to take steriods and anti-rejection drugs for the rest of her life.

After four weeks in hospital, coming home was nerve racking.

Zoe said: “I wasn’t confident about coming home. After so long not walking, the first time I did the stairs my legs were just shaking.”

But she added: “The community of Winslow and people from St Alban’s Chapel have all been so good, driving me around, giving me lifts to Harefield if I needed it.

“When I was in hospital, they did a rota to bring Katy to see me.

“I love living in Winslow – the community spirit is absolutely fantastic.

“It’s made me want to help out other people.”

The Breathe Easy group meets at Winslow Bowls Club from 2pm to 4pm on the last Wednesday of the month.