Kieron Dyer has shared details of his recent liver transplant – having returned to work 12 weeks after the operation.
The ex-Newcastle United and Ipswich Town midfielder was diagnosed with PSE (Primary Sclerosing Cholangitis), a chronic disease that damages the bile ducts, and was told to wait between three and six months for a donor in 2019.
Now, four years later, he is recovering well from the operation and says "the future looks bright".
Speaking live on Sky Sports, Dyer said: "Three months ago my liver basically packed in. I was in a real bad way, in hospital for a long period of time. Someone had to die to keep me alive, which is the brutal truth. It's quite overwhelming to use those words."
Possibly the toughest part of transplant surgery is the wait to find a donor, which required Dyer to always stay within an hour of Addenbrooke’s hospital in Cambridge – "putting life on hold," in his words.
"Mentally it was so demanding," he says. "The amount of false alarms where you think you have a liver and then the liver is too big, too fatty or has been damaged, you have to go through the whole process again. Mentally it’s really challenging. I was grateful for my family because it’s quite a trek to get to Addenbrooke’s in Cambridge from Ipswich, a three-hour return trip, and I had four or five people there every day by my side. I’ll always be grateful for that."
While hospitalised Dyer began to suffer from hallucinations, caused by the damaged liver releasing toxins which reach the brain. One day he thought the doctor had found him a donor only to find out later that he had imagined the conversation entirely.
He recalls: "The doctor came up to me and said: ‘We’ve found you a donor. We’re going to get you prepped for theatre today.’ He goes off to do the rest of the rounds and I ring my missus straight away: 'They’ve found me a liver. It’s going to happen today and you need to get to hospital.'
"Everybody’s ecstatic. She tells my mum, tells everybody, and then something wasn’t sitting right with her. She was like: 'They said they’d call me straight away with news and I haven't heard nothing,' so she rang up the ward. The ward said: 'What are you talking about?' The doctor had to come back to me and say: 'Kieron, why did you just tell your missus that?' I said: ‘You did tell me’ – I was arguing – ‘you just told me.’ He said: ‘No, that’s the toxins. You’re having a hallucination.’”
Now Dyer requires monthly blood tests that will decrease in frequency, and is on medication. "I’m ahead of schedule," he says. "The future is very bright for me."
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