Isobel Given The Ultimate Christmas Gift

Isobel Urquhart, 43, was airlifted into the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh (RIE) for the life-changing organ transplant on Christmas Day.

Instead of preparing her Christmas dinner and unwrapping parcels, Isobel was flown by helicopter from her home in Muir of Ord, Ross-shire in a dramatic race against time to begin the delicate surgery.

Now a month on, she is looking forward to celebrating a belated Christmas and the best start to 2009 by taking her first family holiday with service manager husband Duncan, 45, son Alexander, 22, and daughter Keri, 16.

She said:

“I have been given my life back. I never thought this moment would come. It is amazing.


“When you first go on the transplant list, you are told to keep a bag packed so that when the call comes through, you can just go. But over the years, my bag was unpacked. I had almost given up hope."
“But the call did come and it has changed not just my life, but my family’s as well. It is the best present I could ever have been given.”
Isobel was diagnosed with the autoimmune disease lupus in 1992, shortly after she gave birth to her daughter.
The condition, which attacks its own cells and tissues, was causing considerable damage to Isobel’s kidneys and it became clear she was eventually going to require an organ transplant.
Doctors took the decision early because they knew that it would be almost impossible to find a donor as she had such a rare tissue type and added her name to the list in 1998.
But by 2003, a match had still not been found and Isobel began the gruelling process of dialysis to clean her blood.
She and her family waited for nearly a decade, but as each year passed, their hopes faded – until they received the call.
It came through at 8.30am on December 25 and turned the family’s life upside down.
The family lunch was put in the freezer and the parcels cast aside until Isobel returned home.


Mrs Urquhart said:
“I was jumping up and down with joy. My daughter has never known me to be anything but unwell and I couldn’t stop thinking about the impact it would have on all of us."
“Then I realised that someone else was having the worst Christmas of their lives. I am so grateful to them for making the decision to donate. It will impact on the lives of so many people."
“It would urge everyone to make that decision for themselves and put their name on the organ donor register. It can make such a real difference.”
Mrs Urquhart was collected at 10.30am in Dingwall by Air Ambulance and whisked straight into the RIE where the transplant team were waiting.
By 6.45pm pm she was in theatre with NHS Lothian Consultant Surgeon Lorna Marson.
It took just two-and-a-half hours to perform the operation and give Isobel a second chance of life.
Miss Marson said:
“I had met Isobel at a clinic I was taking in Inverness some time ago and I was very moved because she had been on the list for so long."
“I was on-call on Christmas Day, so when the call came through and I was told the name of the recipient, I was thrilled."
“This will turn Isobel’s and her family’s life around and the future looks great.”
Isobel will continue to be monitored at her local Raigmore Hospital, in Inverness but her family are already planning their own special Christmas and their future together.
Schoolgirl Keri said they had never taken a holiday because Isobel had always been on dialysis and couldn’t wait to take a break.
She said:
“I am so happy for my mum. It will change everything for all of us and it means that we will be able to go on our first holiday together.”