Smile Through It II: The Next Chapter

Chasing dreams, because I can

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Background

My name is Oli Lewington and I’m a transplantee.

All very AA, but that’s the main bit out of the way.

I was diagnosed with Cystic Fibrosis (CF – find out more info here) when I was 18 months old and lived a fairly normal life up until my teens. When I say “normal” I mean many frequent visits to hospital and courses of intra-veinous anti-biotics, which caused discomfort, pain and many other unpleasant side-effects.

CF is a degenerative illness and as I got further into my teens so my health rapidly took a dive. I stayed on a kind of plateau with a lung-function of around 40% for a goodly while into my 20’s when I began work as a creative practitioner, assisting with Youth Theatre workshops and starting to write.

By 2005, when I turned 23, my health had dropped to a lung-function hovering just about the teens. That meant I was blowing roughly 20% what a man my age and height should have been able to blow. I was placed on the Transplant list for two new lungs and told I had about 2 years left to live.

In November 2007, 17 months after being placed on the transplant list and probably mere weeks away from death, I received the call that would change my life forever. Someone, somewhere had made the decision to give me life after their death and their family had consented. I was rushed to Harefield Hospital in Middlesex where I underwent a 7-hour operation.

As I recovered I realised that I couldn’t let this opportunity pass me by. Somewhere in the country a family had suffered a terrible, terrible loss and I was only alive thanks to their generosity. I vowed to myself to do everything I could to pursue my dreams. This is the continuation of the pursuit – live and as it happens.

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4 Responses to “Background”

  1. bonita said

    Hi Olli, i’m finally in the 21st century and got myself a laptop! Just been reading your blog and glad to hear your doing ok. Its been a long time but it’d be great to see you and your family. Keep in touch, lots of love your oldest cousin x

  2. Robin said

    Hi Oli! My name is Robin and I have a son that has cf. He too was diagnosed at 18 months and is now 15 years old. We live in the United States. I have spent most of the morning reading your blog and it has been time very well spent. Congratulations on your transplant and your work for CF awareness. I look forward to reading more about and from you in the future!

  3. Liam Walker said

    Hi Oli,

    I’m Liam Walker, and I’m going to be the DSU Campaign’s Officer next year. I remember this campaign in my first year, though it was at it’s biggest the year before I came to Durham. I think this campaign was amazing, and always stays relevant, so I would very much like to reboot this campaign and get as many people as possible in Durham to sign up to the transplant register. I was thinking of having a whole week or fortnight in the second term dedicated to it.

    I’ve read everything about the campaign, and have a good idea on how to follow it through, but ultimately, because it’s your name on it, I’d really like permission to do it.

  4. Hi Oli,
    I saw your post on Mandy, and I wish I had the funds to follow you with a camera – but you might try posting in ShootingPeople.com in the UK section. There is a huge British film making community of documentarians on that site that I’m sure would love to follow you around and tell your story. Good luck mate!
    Drew

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