Akua Kezia: Upper Holloway author, 22, outlines her bold plans for the future

Diagnosed with auto-immune hepatitis and liver failure aged 14, Akua Kezia aims to start a foundatio

Diagnosed with auto-immune hepatitis and liver failure aged 14, Akua Kezia aims to start a foundation for young people suffering with illness this year - Credit: Archant

“My health is my life and I treasure that to the fullest now,” says Akua Kezia, an Upper Holloway resident and author of The Transplant Girl.

The Transplant Girl is available now

The Transplant Girl is available now - Credit: Archant

Such a turn of phrase is typical of this 22-year-old, who speaks with a maturity that belies her tender years.

The Transplant Girl is Akua’s very raw, very emotional story about her personal battle with auto-immune hepatitis, but it’s also a message of hope to those struggling with their health – mental or physical – right now.

Her experience started with comparatively minor symptoms, then one day in May 2010, aged 14, her condition dramatically worsened.

“I came home, fell asleep and woke up with a temperature. My sister carried me upstairs but I fainted while on her back.

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“She called paramedics, they rushed me to Whittington Hospital, and I was told that I had liver failure and auto-immune hepatitis. I was transferred to Kings College Hospital, which has the largest paediatric liver ward in the world, where I was treated for three-and-a-half months.”

As time went by and Akua’s condition failed to improve, doctors took the decision to place her at the top of the transplant list. She was given a liver transplant on July 21, 2010.

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“Being in a hospital for nearly four months completely shaped me,” Akua adds. “I was completely fine before going to hospital, so as you can imagine, my life was turned upside down.”

“I had to get used to taking over 20 tablets a day, having constant blood tests, MRI scans and more procedures that come with AIH.”

Akua was discharged soon after the transplant but her life had been drastically impacted by the whole ordeal. The Transplant Girl is a book influenced by her struggle to adapt, and her frustration at having to miss some of the main joys of teenage life.

“Now, at 22, it’s still quite hard to get myself and people around me to understand that although I may look perfectly fine – I’m not on the inside so I can’t necessarily do all the things that they can do.”

Driven by a desire to mentor young people who are both pre and post liver transplant, Akua hopes to have her next project wrapped up by the end of the year.

“From here onwards I’m in the process of starting my own foundation. I know that ill health can restrict people going to university, starting a course or getting a job – things that give someone a sense of achievement or belonging.

“I want to say to people that your health does not define you; that hasn’t been addressed yet and I’d love to tackle that.”

The Transplant Girl by Akua Kezia is out now, on all digital platforms in both ebook and paperback.

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