A 29-year-old is seeking her third liver transplant in five years after her body attacked the previous ones.
Alexandra Keel suffers from a rare condition called Primary Sclerosing Cholangitis, which causes liver failure.
It turns her skin yellow with jaundice, makes her uncontrollably itchy, causes her to vomit and has made her lose nearly three stone.
She was a “completely normal” young woman until she was diagnosed with the condition in 2011 – which would be fatal if left untreated.
It forced her to drop out of university – where she had been training to be a primary school teacher – and she was placed on an urgent transplant waiting list.
In January 2012, Keel, of Cheltenham, got a new liver and things seemed to be going well.
But over the next 18 months she began to deteriorate and doctors discovered that the devastating illness, which is classed as an autoimmune condition, was back.
In March 2015 she was handed another lifeline when a second donor was found – and she was given her third liver.
But earlier this year, she was given the tragic news that the condition had returned – and she’s now waiting to have liver number four.
Doctors say it will be her final transplant and are researching potential treatment options in a bid to stop the PSC coming back. If it does, it could be fatal.
Keel said: “Before I was diagnosed I was just a completely normal person. I never had any significant illnesses before it happened.
“But then I started to get itchy, like if you change fabric softener and it’s a bit irritable, so I just put it down to that.
“It went on for a few months and I ended up going to the GP twice before I was taken seriously, but finally they diagnosed it as PSC.
“As the condition progressed I was in agony and being sick constantly. I was about nine and a half stone but I went down to eight stone.
“I’m now six stone nine because I’ve been ill so much.”
She added: “It’s so scary and frightening. I know that the more transplants you have the harder it is – they don’t often do a third transplant.
“It’s scary and I’m so afraid of dying. I just want to be like everyone else. I want the normal things – I want to have a baby and things like that.
“It is really really surreal.”
Doctors have now said that they want to remove part of Keel’s intestine, which can sometimes stop PSC from returning.
They are also considering carrying out a stem cell transplant to replace her immune system with a new one.
After that, she will undergo her third transplant op if a donor can be found.
Her friends have set up a fund to raise £25,000 to help pay for things like transport, hospital parking and respite care, and have so far collected more than £2,000.
Any excess from the fund will be split equally between Keel’s choice of charities – PSC Support and the Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham Liver Trust.
To donate, visit https://www.gofundme.com/smileforalex