Mathoura's Ant Vesty is already back to leading a semi-normal life after an organ transplant has cured his diabetes.By Tyla Harrington
Mathoura man Anthony ‘Ant’ Vesty no longer has diabetes after he received the ‘‘gift’’ of a new pancreas and kidney in January.
It was only last year Ant suffered from diabetes, which robbed him of most of his sight and damaged his kidneys.
The 30 year-old was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes at age 14, so receiving the phone call to say he had organs waiting for him was like opening a door to a new life.
It was 4am when Ant’s mother, Robyn Vesty, received the call from Monash Medical Centre on New Year’s Day.
‘‘I was at a caravan park and it was really weird, you don’t usually get phone reception out there,’’ she said.
‘‘When the phone rang I thought it might’ve been one of the kids wishing me a happy New Year, so I let it ring out.
‘‘When it rang the second time I thought something was up and answered. They said they had vital organs for Ant — it was all systems go.’’
The Vestys went straight to Melbourne where Ant had surgery at the Monash Hospital at 3pm the same day.
‘‘I thought I would’ve been a basket case, but I was totally different than I thought I would be,’’ Robyn said.
‘‘All of a sudden it’s 2.30pm and they say the organs have arrived. The next thing you know we’re following them to surgery.
‘‘It’s emotional, but they (Monash Hospital) were so upbeat about the whole situation.’’
Ant’s surgery went for seven hours, and he had to go back under the knife because of a ‘‘hiccup’’.
Robyn said her son had an internal bleed, which forced him back to surgery at 1.30am. But she said after that everything seemed to go smoothly.
Six days after his operation, everyone got a ‘‘huge shock’’ at Ant’s seemingly quick recovery.
‘‘My legs were going numb so I got up and sat in a chair,’’ Ant explained.
‘‘Then a nurse came in and said ‘what are you doing?’,’’ he said.
Ant spent two weeks in hospital before moving into temporary units in Melbourne for a week.
He was then able to return home to Mathoura, but soon found himself back in hospital after another ‘‘hiccup’’.
Ant suffered a partial blockage in the bowel in February and became ‘‘very, very ill’’.
But with no surprise he recovered from that too.
Since then, Ant has been on anti-rejection tablets and visits a specialist in Bendigo once a week. He also has blood tests twice a week in Echuca and will need to visit Monash Hospital every three months.
Soon he will also see an eye specialist to see if his eyesight will improve.
But he said the appointments would eventually ‘‘back off’’.
‘‘The whole purpose of the transplant has worked because he is no longer a diabetic, and he no longer has kidney failure,’’ Robyn said.
‘‘No more insulin four times a days, and no dialysis. It’s unbelievable really.’’
Before the transplant, Ant had dialysis three times a week in Echuca. Each session took four hours.
In addition to driving Ant to every dialysis session, Robyn took him to regular specialist appointments.
If you asked either of them if they thought organs would become available this soon, they would have said ‘‘no’’.
‘‘I was only on dialysis for 18 months. I was thinking five years (before I would receive new organs),’’ Ant said.
Ant was only on the transplant list at Monash Medical Centre for 11 months before he received the call.
The hospital is only provided with enough organs to conduct about 12 double transplants a year, while 25 are offered in Sydney each year.
‘‘We’re extremely lucky,’’ Robyn said.
‘‘Now he has energy, it’s totally on the other side of the coin. He can go on a holiday for a week now if that’s what he wants.’’
The lifestyle change has already started for Ant, who says he already goes fishing.
They both said the people of Mathoura have been behind them all the way.
‘‘You can imagine the phone calls and positive vibes that people sent,’’ Robyn said.
‘‘The people that prayed, and there was even a mass dedicated to him. It was just huge the amount of people that sent their wishes, but it’s a small town and that’s what we do.
‘‘After about a year everything will settle down and he (Ant) can lead a normal life. They (the new organs) have turned back 16 years of his life.’’
As for the donor, Robyn said recipients are to wait three months before the donor’s family can be contacted, which they have to do anonymously.
Ant’s donor family can not be thanked enough, and everyone in Ant’s family plans to write them a letter.
‘‘I’ve always ticked the donor box. But when you have a kid in need, it puts everything to the front of your mind,’’ Robyn said.
‘‘Here’s the proof of what a donor can do,’’ she said pointing to Ant.
‘‘There are no words that can describe how grateful we are.’’
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