Alan's story

Alan Campbell, from Manchester, UK, was diagnosed with type I diabetes at the age of 22. As his health deteriorated he found himself becoming the fifth person in Manchester ever to undergo a pancreaticRelating to the pancreas. transplant. The 38-year-old shares his story in his own words.

I kept waking up in the middle of the night needing to have a drink or to urinate. My partner was in the late stages of pregnancy at the time and I don't know if it was once too often, but she just turned round to me and said, 'Right, you're going to the doctor's tomorrow!'

I managed the best I could, which wasn't very well at all, and this went on for a couple of years. My partner and I split up because of diabetes-related issues.

I saw the doctor and within about 2 hours I found myself in an ambulance. I was kept in hospital for about a week, before being given insulinA hormone produced by the beta cells of the pancreas that acts to lower blood glucose levels. and needles and sent home.

My son was born a day or so after I was discharged and my diabetes was put on the back burner. I managed the best I could, which wasn't very well at all, and this went on for a couple of years. My partner and I split up because of diabetes-related issues. I would go into the hypoglycaemic stage and lose my temper and she just couldn't cope with that and a new baby so I thought it best to leave.

In 1997 I moved to Manchester and here I received A-star-rated diabetes care. [By implication this is critical of his previous care - is that OK?] I also got some sort of routine in my life. I started to eat regularly and began to see a dietitianA specialist in food and nutrition.. I also had a diabetes specialist nurse and things started to change.

I was to become only the fifth person in Manchester and one of 200 people in the UK to have [a pancreaticRelating to the pancreas. transplant]... It began to get scary when I actually met the transplant consultants and started to undergo tests to see whether or not I was fit enough to have a transplant.

However, over the next 3 years I began to experience health problems such as neuropathy (nerveBundle of fibres that carries information in the form of electrical impulses. damage). Eventually my consultant said that my creatinineA product of the breakdown of creatine in muscle (creatine itself is fromed from the breakdown of protein). levels were increasing, so basically my kidneys were going into failure. He said if I didn't have the pancreaticRelating to the pancreas. transplant, I might need a kidney-pancreas transplant in the future.

I was to become only the fifth person in Manchester and one of 200 people in the UK to have had it done. When the consultant told me about it, I was quite excited. This was a chance for me to lose the diabetes and stop having to inject myself - to be able to live a normal life. But it began to get scary when I actually met the transplant consultants and started to undergo tests to see whether or not I was fit enough to have a transplant.

I had been on the register for a year when I got the phone call. When I heard the woman say, 'This is the transplant lab', I just dropped the phone. They put me onto a doctor and after asking a series of questions he told me to make my way in. He said, 'You are the primary recipient, although we will bring somebody else in, just in case you are not suitable for it.'

Before my transplant I used to feel drained. Now I feel healthy. I feel fit. I've returned to work, which is something that I didn't think would happen so soon.

At the hospital, following several hours of discussion and history taking, the consultant came back and told me I was good to go. So I put my coat on, thinking I was going home. He said, 'No, you are good to go to theatre!' and handed me a gown.

The procedure took between 6 and 8 hours. I was in ITU for 4 days and on the ward for 10. At this time, what was going through my mind was that it was not going to reject - it was up to me to make sure it didn't reject. If I accepted it as being part of me then it would be part of me. I've always been positive.

Before my transplant I used to feel drained. Now I feel healthy. I feel fit. I've returned to work, which is something that I didn't think would happen so soon. I was off work for at least 2 years prior to the transplant because of other diabetes-related problems such as foot ulcers. People say that I've actually changed in my attitude because I don't have these erratic sugar levels that make me Dr Jekyll one minute and Mr Hyde the next.

I am independent of insulinA hormone produced by the beta cells of the pancreas that acts to lower blood glucose levels. but I am still a diabetic. The hospital came up with the label of insulinA hormone produced by the beta cells of the pancreas that acts to lower blood glucose levels.-independent diabetic for me because I went through a period of having problems with prescription charges because my condition was not defined properly.

Since the transplant I've qualified as a counsellor and I've been back at work for the past six months. In my role as a support worker, a lot of my service users are diabetic, so I have an insight into what's they're going through. There's a lot to be positive about.