Maybe, for the same sensation-seeking reasons that had got me into this situation in the first place, I felt rather exhilarated. More than four definite cancers and the rulebook said they could not operate, but they gave me the benefit of the doubt.
I sometimes felt extraordinarily fatalistic about it, but she never panicked. We had two children and another on the way – they are Ludo, now 15, Charlotte, 14, and Oliver, 12 – so life continued as usual. I continued to work as foreign editor of The Sunday Telegraph and took time off only for my treatment. Routine ultrasound failed to produce the customary all-clear. And then a rushed appointment for a full week of examinations at Addenbrookes, which is the specialist home of the first European liver transplant.‘What are they testing for?
My normally ice-cool ultrasound doctor visibly blanched. ’ I asked.‘To see if you are suitable for a transplant,’ the nurse replied.
You might assume an astonishingly lucky beneficiary of the failing current system would embrace that view wholeheartedly. However much I revere the NHS, the idea of the authorities taking charge of the nation’s deceased bodies somehow seems intolerable.
From my libertarian point of view, it is just a tad too Big Brother.
It has also triggered the first major disagreement I have had with my long-suffering wife, the journalist and novelist Rachel Johnson (the sister of London Mayor Boris), over the whole transplant debate.