Liz Schick

Ski camp organiser and organ transplant survivor

Liz Schick

Liz Schick

In her own words, Liz explains how she faced up to having a life-saving organ transplant and how she’s used the experience to help children re-start their lives after organ transplant surgery.

“Facing death gives you a terrific sense of freedom,” says Liz. “From that point on, you make the most of every moment and that feeling has not gone away”.

Seven years ago, things were very different. Liz, a keen sportswoman and mum to Zoé (13) and James (16), had just learnt that her liver was failing fast.

Overnight, her life dramatically changed. “One day I was running 8km in Hyde Park , the next I was having a CAT scan and being told I had a life-threatening liver condition”.

Initially, Liz’s rare condition was misdiagnosed, but a final diagnosis meant Liz faced an urgent liver transplant.

“The lights went out: my life changed overnight. No one understood how I could be so alive and healthy one day and suddenly needing a transplant the next. Zoé kept asking my mother: ‘Mummy is not going to die, is she?’.

But my children fed my will to survive. The only place I felt safe was cuddled up next to them. I could not bear the idea of someone else bringing them up, or not being there for them. I believe that children are the best ambassadors of life.

I was lucky, my operation was successful and I am a living example of long-term survival. But the experience means I want children with an organ transplant to enjoy an active life and future. I want what happened to me to serve a purpose”.

Today Liz makes a difference to such kids. She built TACKERS from scratch, as a charity adventure camp for children with organ transplants. For many children at camp, it is their first opportunity to run, play and have fun as any ‘normal’ child. They also slip the sometimes over-protective arms of their parents and escape their struggle for long-term health.

“I used to believe that you have a transplant and you’re ‘cured’. But a transplant is only the start of a life-long battle and a daily cocktail of medicines, to keep the new organ healthy,” Liz says. “Children face the toughest battle. With a shortage of organs, it is critical that those receiving a transplant keep their new organs for life and continue to enjoy living”.

She also wants to show these children and people on transplant lists that there is life after transplantation. “We can have dreams too and achieve many things. I joined the Roche-sponsored climb of Mount Kilimanjaro , for instance. I felt like my body had betrayed me, when I became ill, but by reaching the summit of Kili, we made peace again at 5895m! I encourage kids at TACKERS to have dreams and to strive to achieve them. We all need goals. Apart from Kili, TACKERS was my dream…we have not done badly considering….’’.

None of this is easy. Liz combines running her own business and bringing up a family with lobbying major companies, like Roche, to secure funds for TACKERS. Liz also keeps in touch with many of the children and families who attend camp, offering advice and an inspirational voice.

“Looking back over the past years, I can truly say you never know what life holds – funnily enough I have no regrets about having been ill, it has taught me so much. I’m a great believer of turning a minus into a plus. Life is for living. Don’t be scared. Get out there and make a difference”.

“When people ask me if I know who my donor is, I say my donor is my best friend. We’ve just never met, but we’ve climbed Mount Kilimanjaro together.” I feel like I owe my donor, I think he would be proud of what we do together. I know he was a young man. That is all I know about him.

One of the most rewarding things is to see the change in the children at the TACKERS camp, even in just a week. They leave transformed and full of confidence”.

This is also available in: French, German

5 Responses to Liz Schick

  1. Josephine Rauss says:

    Hello, Liz, I just wanted to say that I think what you’re doing, and have already achieved, is absolutely amazing and very inspirational. Keep up your incredible good work!

  2. Linda Chaboudy says:

    Hello Liz!

    We were thrilled to learn that Heather might have the opportunity to participate in the TACKERS camp this past March 2011…unfortunately, Heather takes her academic courses and attendance quite seriously 🙂 .

    Heather is hopeful, that with precise planning, she might be invited back to TACKERS Camp in 2012 ! ?

    She is already pre-preparing herself for some snow athletics AND fundraising!

    Thank you for ALL YOU DO to bring this unique international group of young people together…

    Keeping Heather’s fingers crossed for 2012,

    The Chaboudy’s
    Heather (15 year post heart transplant) 15 yr old teen
    Florida, USA

  3. joe simonick says:

    HI lIZ IT JOE SIMONICK FROM BUFFALO NY, WAS with you in2002,anzer WITH MY SON JOEY,he JUST FINISH HIGH SCHOOL AND IS DOING GREAT 18 years out, just wanted to say thank again and hello<Joe Simonick USA buffalo,ny

  4. Willeke Milhous says:

    Hello Liz

    We hope te reach you with this mail, because we would like to rent ski’s for our childeren from april 27 th till may 3th. We would like to ski in Verbier in that week… Is it possible to rest ski’s for our children (Twin 7 years old)

    Fam Milhous from Holland (Gert-Jan en Willeke)

  5. marie devine says:

    Brilliant and inspirational!
    Love that you said you turned a minus into a positive,its how i feel 10 years after my kidney transplant, but just couldn,t articulate it as well 😉
    Looking forward to meeting you in January,with the rest of the group! 🙂

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