A former healthcare assistant at the Freeman Hospital is featuring the NHS staff who cared for her husband as part of an exhibition at Sunderland’s National Glass Centre.
Anne Scott, who worked on Ward 17, enrolled in a BA (Hons) Artist, Designer, Maker: Glass and Ceramics degree in 2019, as a creative outlet whilst her husband, Richard, waited for a liver and kidney transplant.
After retiring, Anne enrolled in to do a MA Visual Practice Glass Pathway degree and is showcasing her final year work at the exhibition.
Fifteen years ago, Richard discovered he had a genetic condition, which meant that his liver was not able to process oxalates, which caused stones to form in the kidneys.
“I was getting kidney stones every few months, some were broken down with lithotripsy, but some were too hard for this and had to be surgically removed,” he said.
Richard was put on medication to reduce the number of stones he was getting so frequently, but his kidney function started to deteriorate resulting in end-stage renal failure.
It was agreed he would be put on dialysis four days a week, which was carried out at home, but because of his genetic condition he would need to have a liver and kidney transplant.
Anne, 65, recalls the moment they received the lifechanging call…
“Richard had just finished dialysis, and our usual routine was that we’d have tea after he’d finished, and his phone started to ring,” she said.
Richard added: “I’d been receiving a lot of spam telephone calls, so I nearly didn’t answer the call! I remember them telling me they had a match for me, and that I needed to go to the hospital as soon as possible.”
As Anne has arthritis and requires strong medication taken in the evenings, Richard made the journey alone while Anne waited nervously at home.
“Richard rang me to say, ‘it’s a go’. They had checked his bloods and the organs were a match,” she said.
Once in theatre, it would be twelve hours until Anne would hear if her husband was okay. Thankfully the surgery was a success, but it would be another six weeks until he could go home again.
Now fully recovered, the 69-year-old says he has his life back and is much more active.
“I started at first walking with a stick, but now I am able to go out walking for a few hours with the dog. I have lots more energy and I am driving again – I have got my life back,” he said.
It was visiting Richard as he recovered from his transplant, that Anne had a ‘lightbulb’ moment.
“While I was visiting him in Ward 37 ICU at Freeman and my old Ward 17, I had the idea of asking staff to pose with one of my pieces so I could display these behind my artwork. These are a thank you to all the staff who aided my husband in his recovery.”
Staff will feature as part of Anne’s Masters’ showcase exhibition, ‘By a Thread’, which is exhibiting at Sunderland’s National Glass Centre until 1 October. The series of the exhibition work, “By a Thread,” is about mental and physical health, with the fragility of the glass resonates with the fragility of the heart.
Newcastle Hospitals Charity’s Arts Programme Manager, Katie Hickman, said: “Engaging with the arts improves our wellbeing and supports our health, therefore it’s always interesting to witness the various ways Trust staff, former staff, patients, their loved ones, and our wider communities find creative ways to cope, alleviate stress, and communicate their stories.”