I retired from the prison service and I moved to Thailand. I was a bar manager there and I was having an absolutely wonderful time. I met a lady and we got married, we’ve been together for 14 years.
I kept myself incredibly fit doing lots of exercise every day but I was working in the bar from nine o’clock in the evening to around four o’clock in the morning. I would entertain guests and drinking was all part of the hospitality. I didn’t realise the damage I was doing to my liver and I fell drastically ill.
"The doctors said there was nothing they could do for me. It was a horrible experience."
I knew there was something wrong. I had vomited up blood several times so I called my partner and said ‘you need to take me to hospital’. When we got there everything hit the fan.
They gave me some tablets and things seemed to calm down but nine months later I had a second bout – it was so bad I nearly died. I spent my life savings on two episodes in hospital. The doctor told me that if I didn’t try and get a liver transplant I wouldn’t survive. I didn’t know until recently but the doctor told my wife I only had about three months to live. So I had to come back to England to get help.
I didn’t have any money so my friends helped by booking a flight. I fell ill on the plane but for some reason the people on the ground refused to provide me medical assistance when I landed so I had to get a bus to the hospital, and I collapsed in A&E.
"I want to say a big thank you Jackie and Gill for all their help. I wouldn’t be alive without them."
The doctors said there was nothing they could do for me. It was a horrible experience. They discharged me with nowhere to go, so I ended up in Crawley that night sleeping in a doorway – homeless.
My friend was kind enough to pay for a B&B for me but it wasn’t getting me anywhere. So I went to the Citizens Advice Bureau with my suitcase and said ‘I’m homeless, I’ve got nowhere to live and I’m ill’. They took me in and gave me some tea and biscuits, and they contacted Crawley Borough Council who then put me in touch with Jackie and Gill.
I’m a bit of a realist; I didn’t think anyone would be able to help me. So when I first met Jackie and Gill I didn’t hold out much hope.
It took a little while to get the ball rolling – although I was British born I was technically an illegal immigrant. We struggled to find anyone who would help me but thankfully Jackie and Gill knew all about my rights, they knew when we were being fobbed off and didn’t let it happen. I knew I had a prison pension and amazingly they were able to track it down for me.
Eventually I was offered a place in sheltered accommodation where I’m living now. In 2017 I found out I was able to go on the transplant list. They said I would have to wait six months to a year before I would get a liver but it only took two months. I realised at that point how close I was to dying.
I’m feeling a lot better, so I want to get back to work because I want to see my wife! I haven’t seen her for two years, partly because I haven’t been allowed to fly but also because it costs a lot of money.
I want to say a big thank you Jackie and Gill for all their help. I wouldn’t be alive without them. They helped me with everything – they probably went even further than they really had to.
Gill, David's Keyworkers
When we first met David was very frail and very low. He’d basically given up on life. He was understandably very negative about everything we said we’d do for him. He had very little faith in the system and no understanding of what he was entitled to. His memory was so bad that he was just going with the flow; his priority was just to stay alive.
When we first went to see David we arranged a food parcel for him in the first instance and then got a bit of background information on him. Because he had no fix abode and was not a habitual resident of the UK we knew it was going to be difficult.
David needed his medication to stay alive so we needed to get him registered with a GP. Because he was unable to pay for his prescriptions we were able to set him up with a pre-payment plan.
We managed to secure him a grant to help him buy food and toiletries etc. then after three months we got the notification to say the Habitual Resident Test had been accepted which meant we could move forward.
When he moved from the temporary accommodation to a hostel, he was able to actually make his own food. We got him a slow cooker and he was always telling us about the different meals he’d made. It was definitely at that point he had started to live again.
Once he was settled into permanent accommodation we were only able to work with him for another two weeks but after that our work is finished and he was on his own. It was very hard especially as we were the only people he had here in England.
We haven’t seen David since before he had his transplant but now I can’t believe how good he looks. I am so proud of him and everything he has achieved.