LIFESTYLE

Cancer Patient Survives Having Eight Organs Removed - And Now He's Planning His Wedding

'I really cannot thank the medical team enough.'

01/03/2017 09:37 GMT

A cancer patient became one of just four people in the world to survive multiple organ transplant surgery in a bid to beat his incurable disease.

Adam Alderson was told by doctors his rare peritoneal cancer, pseudomyxoma peritonei (PMP), meant he was just weeks from death.

But the 37-year-old has defied the odds by surviving 17-hour ground-breaking surgery which required 30 people working shifts to remove the 10kg tumour.

It resulted in the removal of Adam’s stomach, small bowel, large bowel, pancreas, spleen, gall bladder, appendix, abdominal wall and most of his liver, before multiple abdominal organs were transplanted into him.

Adam, from Preston-under-Scar in Wensleydale, North Yorkshire, is now looking forward to marrying his fiancé Laura Blanchard following the success of his operation.

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When Adam was put onto palliative care he refused to accept his bleak
prognosis - and admits his doctors have credited his stubborn temperament as what made him survive.

Adam said: “I was dying; my girlfriend could see it, my friends could see
it and I was very aware of how little time I had left. This was my last chance.”

Adam had suffered with bowel problems for many years. He had been misdiagnosed as irritable bowel syndrome, and it was only when he and Laura had embarked on a new life to Australia in 2011 that he realised it was something more serious.

Adam said: “We were having the time of our lives, making friends, going out and
partying, working hard and playing hard.

“We had been in Australia for around 18 months when I was diagnosed with
 PMP.

“The diagnosis came out of nowhere. I just collapsed. It’s the old cliché
 – it’s never going to happen to me.

“I was told it was very rare and had to get back home for treatment at the Christie Cancer Hospital in Manchester – a world leader in cancer treatment.

“It is hard to take in, but right from the moment I was diagnosed I knew I
was going home to fight, not to die. We flew home in February 2013 and had my first appointment at the Christie the same month.”

Preparations were made for him to have an operation in the hope that the
surgeons could remove as much of the tumour as possible.

The debulking procedure would be coupled with washing the tumour in hot
chemotherapy.

But when he came round from the operation he was told it had been too
dangerous for it to be completed and there was nothing they could do.

Adam said: “Just a few months earlier, I was looking forward to a life at the other side of the world, I was now told that I had as little as two years to
 live. I was only 35-years-old.”

Adam refused to accept that his life could be cut short and despite being
extremely ill and weak, he researched treatments and surgeries around the
world.

He finally heard about an operation that former England rugby league
player Steve Prescott, also a PMP patient, had undergone.

The operation was complicated and a world first ever to be performed; it
required the removal of Steve’s tumours followed by a multi-organ transplant.

Adam learnt that Steve had undergone pioneering surgery at Churchill Hospital
in Oxford.

The 32 hour operation was a success, but Steve died as a result of graft-versus-host-disease, a complication that can occur following transplants.

Adam said: “I’m not known for my patience, and I have a very fiery temper
so to be told that I was going to die and there was nothing I could do about it
wasn’t sitting well with me.”

“I decided there and then that this was an opportunity for me. I started
researching and came up with the same name over and over again, Brendan
Moran.”

Mr Moran, a surgeon from Basingstoke and North Hampshire Hospital and PMP
specialist, was working towards more progressive treatments of the disease
that would focus on cure as opposed to prolonging life, and he agreed to see
Adam.

 By this time, Adam’s health was deteriorating. He was fed through a tube
 by Laura, and had lost so much weight he couldn’t get himself out of the
 bath.

Despite concern from his doctors, Adam pushed to have the same surgery –
and after a long battle, undergoing tests and waiting for a donor, he finally
went under the knife in the summer of 2015.

Not long afterwards, it was officially announced that the procedure had
been a success.

Adam is now preparing not only to marry his fiancé Laura, who has faced
each of his health battles alongside him, but also to take part in the Mongol Rally.

The Mongol Rally is a car rally that begins in Europe and ends in Ulan
 Ude, the capital of the Republic of Buryatia, Russia.

The car must be farcically small, teams are totally unsupported and they
need to raise at least £1000 for charity.

Adam said: “Now I want to give something back, to raise the profile of PMP
 and most importantly the belief that you should never give up.

“I really cannot thank the medical team enough. They believed in me and they took a risk – a big risk - but it has paid off.

“I also want to thank the donor family. The harsh reality is that someone has lost their life for someone else to live and I will never forget that or take it for granted.

“I will appreciate that for as long as I live.”

Adam is raising money for Macmillan and the Steve Prescott Foundation.

He said: “It is a 15,000 mile trek across Europe and Asia with no fixed
route, as long as you reach Mongolia.

“It is potentially dangerous, especially for me as if I get an infection
or rejection it would be very serious.”

Adam’s fiancé Laura is 36-years-old and works as a marketing manager. Adam works as a self employed tree surgeon. 

Adam had the multiple organ surgery at the Oxford Transplant Centre at
Churchill Hospital in Oxford.

He had his stomach, small bowel, large bowel, pancreas, spleen, gall
bladder, appendix, abdominal wall and most of his liver removed along with the
tumour.

The organs he received were all from one donor.

Adam said the operation was carried out in stages and not all 30 people
were in theatre at once.

He said transplant team removed his organs before before the cancer team
removed the tumour.

The transplant team then transplanted the organs before plastic surgeons carried out a skin graft.

He said there was around eight surgeons involved in the surgery.

Adam said the first surgery at Christie Cancer Hospital in Manchester
could not be carried out as there was no way of stripping the tumour back off the organs.

He said: “When they opened me up they realised the tumour was too far
spread and was really difficult to remove.

“It had shut down my bowel completely. So they didn’t remove anything at
 all.

“There was no way of stripping it back off the organs, the only way was a
complete abdominal transplant.

“They did multiple organ transplants, not regularly, but mainly for other
diseases.”

Adam says he was told he was unable to have the operation and there was no other options available.

He posted in a support group on Facebook and was advised to contact Brendan Moran at Basingstoke Hospital to see if the surgery could be carried out.

Mr Moran agreed to see Adam but in the meantime Adam’s body started to
shut down.

He said: “I was taken my ambulance to my local hospital really poorly, they
said I was dying and I needed to put my affairs in order.

“They asked me to sign a do not resuscitate form and I told them what to
do with that.

“I asked them to ring the surgeon and see what they say. I refused to give
in.

“Unfortunately they were in agreement with the Christie hospital that the
surgery couldn’t be done.

“When he said he couldn’t do that, that was the end. But he offered me an alternative way - the transplant operation - which I didn’t know about.”

Adam, who was dying at the time, said he grabbed the surgery with both
hands.

He said: “I’m fine, I’m 18 months down the line, I’m all clear on all my
scans and my bloods are good.

“My life is great, I am back to work full time. I am a little bit lighter than I used to be, I have lost two-and-a-half stone in total, but that will come.

“I will slowly gain weight over the next few years. My life is very different to how it was two years ago.”

There are only four people in the world who have survived the surgery -
all in the UK. Adam and Laura are getting married in North Yorkshire in May.

 

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