Thursday, 1 November 2012

A guest blog from Mel the director of 'love on the transplant list'

This is a blog Mel the director and producer of 'love on the transplant list' wrote for the BBC which she gave me permission to use. Me and Mel got very close whilst filming, she came into our lives to film the documentary but she will remain a great friend of mine and Stuart's and our families. I'm happy to say we also attended her wedding in August so as she was such a huge part of our special day it was great to be part of hers and her husband Sams.

At Special Edition Films, we got in touch with Kirstie after seeing her blog 2ndchance@life to approach her about making the documentary for BBC Three about her experience.

As the producer, Kirstie made it very clear to me from the start that she wanted people to see what it was really like to be on the transplant waiting list.

She hoped that by showing the reality of her situation it would encourage more to sign up to the donor list.

In May 2011, when I first met her at home in East Devon, Kirstie had seriously bad, end stage lung disease where a transplant was her only chance of survival.

Kirstie was already on the transplant waiting list and had been told that she only had six months to live.

The documentary starts with Kirstie and her fiancé Stuart three weeks before their wedding day and although Kirstie was living at home at the time, she was on oxygen machines 24 hours a day to help her breathe, confined to a wheelchair and having constant IV's and pain medication.

She was barely able to stand for a couple of minutes let alone plan a wedding.

Our whole crew consisted of an assistant producer and me - during the ten weeks of filming, this amazing young couple battled everything to live their life to the full.

We followed Kirstie being hospitalised and fighting for her life two days before her wedding, even checking herself out of hospital early to make it down the aisle.

A couple of weeks after the wedding you'll see how Kirstie was still so thrilled to finally be married before the sudden shock of having to be taken by air ambulance to the transplant hospital in London, knowing that if she didn't get there right then, she would never survive the journey.

It was an extremely emotional time in this couple's life that as a filmmaker I couldn't help but be affected by.

Each time I filmed with Kirstie I was acutely aware that this could be the last time I would ever see her alive again.

Watching Stu talk about how it felt to be in a situation where the person you love is dying and there is nothing you can do to save them, is something I'll never forget.

Kirstie's husband Stuart waits for news

Filming with Kirstie and her family when they were going through such a painful and highly emotional time put me in an unusual situation but I was very privileged to be able to follow their journey and they were extremely supportive.

Her drive and determination made it much easier to talk openly about difficult issues such as death and living with illness.

Choosing the music for the film was always going to be an extremely important element for me to help add a layer of emotion and try to reflect what everyone was feeling.

Throughout filming, I was constantly listening to albums and almost creating a soundtrack in my head as I saw the events unfold in front of me.

In the edit I found that if a track made me completely re-live the moment then that was the right one to use.

I quite often wouldn't listen out for relevant lyrics but literally watched through footage with headphones permanently attached and when a track had absolutely the right feel to it I would play it back and realise that actually the lyrics added to the scene.

Some of the tracks used in the film were personal to Kirstie and Stu, in particular the Take That track which was played as Kirstie walked down the aisle and I'm Coming Home by Diddy Dirty Money feat. Skylar Grey which Stu played to Kirstie when he was finally able to take her home from the hospital.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad


  1. it was such an enlightening programme, made with great sensitivity and compassion yet driving home the message of how important it is to sign up to be a donor or consider donation as a bereaved relative. thank you for sharing with viewers. I was very touched.

  2. Nice sentiments from Mel,she must have had her heart in her mouth at times watching you suffering. It was a very poignant piece of filming and very moving, from crying, empathy, sympathy, Happiness at the wedding, despair when you were on the ECMO to incredible delight when a match was found. To then go on to survive the op to this so happy time......well you could not make it up and this should be made into a full length film, I am sure that organ donation would benefit. Well done to Mel and I am glad you have become know yourself how lonely it can be fighting chronic illness. xx

  3. I was really moved by the programme I watched about you, I am from Ireland and work in a large compounding facility, I am a supervisor for all home care antibiotic production and our main drugs are for cystic fibrosis, your story has really given me an insight into who our finished product goes to and the amount of suffering that is endured by cf patients, you have also given me a reason to be proud of what I do and I have a different view of my job knowing that I am a bit closer to understanding our patients. I wish you all the best for your future with your new lungs you truly deserve a second chance at life and to enjoy yourself with your incredibly caring husband x

  4. I watched Love... on BBC three last week, really inspiring programme. I am most probably going on the tx list in January due to my lungs being 13% of what they should be, as I have a severe form of COPD. I am genuinely scared but I have drawn hope from watching your documentary.

    1. Hi I hope u are listed and your call comes soon. I know it's a scarey place to be but any questions or any think I can help with feel free to drop me a email stay strong x

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