A selfless partner who saved the life of his bride-to-be by giving her half of his liver is looking forward to an extra-special Valentine’s Day with his fiance following her miracle recovery.
Paul Jones, 29, went under the knife in October last year after watching his partner of seven years Claire Beams, 24, gradually deteriorate from biliary atresia – a rare life-threatening disease which causes severe inflammation of the bile ducts.
She was born with the condition and in her late teens she began throwing up constantly and experienced terrible pain on a daily basis.
Chunks of her hair started to fall out and she was so weak she was forced to use a wheelchair.
When a doctor told her last year that her liver would fail if she didn’t get a healthy transplant, big-hearted Paul underwent a scan to see if he would be a suitable donor.
It turned it he was a perfect match and following her surgery at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham, Claire is full of life again.
Last year they spent Valentine’s Day in hospital but this evening (Sun) Paul is treating her to a night out at a Gabrielle Alpin concert at the O2 Institute in Digbeth, Birmingham.
Today (Sat), healthcare assistant Clare, who lives with Paul in Sutton Coldfield, West Mids., said: “I was relatively well in childhood but shortly after I met Paul I started to go downhill.
“I would get infections all the time and it would take months for me to get better.
“And couple of years ago I stopped getting better from the infections.
“My liver had deteriorated to the point where it wouldn’t have worked for much longer. I had cirrhosis (liver scarring) and daily life was horrible.
“I would wake up and start throwing up constantly. My whole body would itch and I couldn’t bear water on my body.
“I had no energy to do anything and I would sleep the days away. I couldn’t walk anywhere, so I had to use a wheelchair.
“But since the transplant I have never felt this well. I’ve got so much energy and I’m not in pain any more.
“I spent last Valentine’s Day in hospital and there weren’t things to look forward to, but that’s all changed.
“I was overwhelmed when Paul offered to be a donor, but I was very scared.
“I didn’t want him to go through any pain, or his family to go through any heartache, so I felt a bit guilty. But I’m very grateful for what he did.
“I’m also very grateful to the Children’s Liver Disease Foundation (CLDF). Their support was a massive help.”
Livers are regenerative organs are and both Paul and Clare’s livers will restore to normal size and function.
Pensions administrator Paul, who met Clare on a train in 2009, said: “It was incredibly painful to see this happening to Clare.
“I wanted to help but felt I couldn’t do anything.
“Then, when the opportunity to help came along I took it with both hands.
“I wanted to give Clare the quality of life she deserved. It was difficult seeing her being admitted to hospital every two to three months due to recurring infections.
“I always said if I could take the pain away I would, I just never imagined I would ever have the opportunity to do so.
“I was nervous, scared and worried about the complications involved with the operations.
“But I’m glad I made the right decision as I can now see Clare enjoying life and doing everyday things that most of us take for granted.
“This brings a whole new meaning to Clare being my other half.
“But it is Clare’s liver now and I’m so pleased to have given it to such a deserving person.
“I’m so happy to have her back in good health and can’t wait for our future together.
“She’s like a new person now.
“I’m really looking forward to tonight’s show, it will be a really special occasion.”
The couple are due to be married at St Peter’s Church in Sutton Coldfield on December 3.
For more information about CLDF log onto www.childliverdisease.org