Wellard women transformed by life-changing surgery

Aiden BoyhamSound Telegraph
Sally Couch with her grandsons Charlie, 4, and Lleyton, 22 months, says her life has been transformed.
Camera IconSally Couch with her grandsons Charlie, 4, and Lleyton, 22 months, says her life has been transformed. Credit: The West Australian, Danella Bevis

Wellard woman Sally Couch was facing the harsh reality of spending the rest of her life confined to a wheelchair before she had life-changing surgery in 2014.

Having lived with debilitating pain from scoliosis since she was just 16 years old, Mrs Couch was almost totally housebound by 52, with painkillers barely helping her struggle at all.

“I was in crippling pain from scoliosis all my life to the point that I could hardly walk,” she said.

“It was a crippling, cruel situation. It was horrendous.”

Fast forward to 2017 and with the help of talented surgeon performing a total spine fusion and the donation of a hip bone from an anonymous elderly lady, Mrs Couch’s life has been transformed.

“I went from being unable to walk far and being housebound to having a whole new lease on life,” she said.

“I couldn’t even lift my grandchildren to give them a cuddle and now I’m babysitting them and enjoying being a Grandma.”

Mrs Couch credits the work of PlusLife, WA’s tissue and bone bank, with helping her get her life back on track.

“The bone graft donation I received was a lifesaver in every sense of the word,” she said.

Thanks to a surge in tissue and bone grafts in 2016, more than 560 people can now walk, see or live without chronic pain.

Those figures include 35 young cancer patients who were saved from having a limb removed.

PlusLife managing director Ann Cowie said people having hip replacements could donate the ball part of their hip, which is commonly used to help kids with spinal deformities.

“While organ donation rightly has a high community profile and is known as the ultimate, life-saving gift, many people are not aware that tissue donation can have life-changing benefits for patients, ” she said.

“One deceased tissue donor has the potential to improve the wellbeing, sight and mobility of up to 60 people.”

Ms Cowie urged people to consider becoming donors.

“There is a significant lack of awareness about the donation of human tissue after death, which includes bones, tendons, corneas, heart valves and skin,” she said.

To become a donor go to Medicare online or visit donorregister.gov.au.

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