CHEK Upside: Liver transplant recipient giving back with nursing career

WatchNatalie Williams was the recipient of a liver transplant in 2017. Four years later the now 23-year-old is pursuing a career in nursing.

For Natalie Williams, the past four years have been an incredible journey.

“Sometimes it feels like it was just yesterday,” says Williams as she thinks back to the day her life changed.

Williams was born with Biliary Atresia, a childhood liver disease.

After being in and out of hospital for most of her life, at the age of 19, Williams suffered liver failure.

Fortunately, her life was saved with a transplant, but it was still a day of conflicting emotions.

“You’re really excited at first cause it’s like you’re final few hours of feeling sick and in pain, but then you kind of get really sad cause you know someone else has passed away,” says Williams.

“It’s also scary because the clock is almost starting to tick then when they’ve declared that that’s a necessity,” adds Natalie’s mom Nickie.

Since that fateful moment, the now 23-year-old has been making the most of her second chance. In 2018 she went skydiving to celebrate the one-year anniversary of her transplant and then followed that up with gold medals in road cycling and swimming at the Canadian Transplant Games.

“That was really exciting,” smiles Williams. “So we’re hoping to go to the world games in 2023 in Australia.”

Her experience even shaped her career path. Williams is taking a nursing course through Camosun College and UVic.

“I feel like when you’ve constantly been on the receiving end of such profound compassion and empathy from medical professionals and also now my donor and my donor family, there comes a point where you’re just like I have to and I want to,” says Williams

As for anyone thinking about filling out the organ donor registration form.

“For sure do it cause you’re giving a life, you’re giving the best gift,” says Nickie.

“I think that we have the power in us to save eight lives is incredible in and of itself and to think the legacy that you’re going to leave behind,” says Williams.

To register as an organ donor, visit the BC Transplant website.

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Cole SorensonCole Sorenson

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