On Good Friday last year, 28-year-old Pippa Kent underwent a life-saving operation – a double lung transplant.
The surgery saved her life, for which she feels enormous gratitude to her donor and his family. But one consequence which she hadn’t anticipated was the daily reality of following a diet for those who are immune suppressed – which she will have to do indefinitely.
As she negotiated the unfamiliar food territory, Pippa realised that there are hundreds of thousands of people in the UK who are in the same situation. This includes anyone who has had an organ transplant, is undergoing chemotherapy, has Crohn’s disease or rheumatoid arthritis and many, many more conditions.
She decided to try and produce a cookery book with recipes donated by various chefs, restaurants and well-known foodies, that are 100% immune suppression friendly. With not only the right ingredients but also all the necessary cooking steps included in the method, to ensure that anyone can prepare safe and delicious food.
Her idea is that people who are dealing with illness, their friends and family have enough worries, without having to think about food as well.
To make the book happen, she has to crowdfund over £50,000. She has a publisher, the contributors and the specialist support ready to go – now she needs to raise awareness and try and persuade others to get behind the cause by donating.
The Q and A below explains the ‘Now What Cat I Eat?’ cookbook
A. As a complete foodie all my life, post-transplant one of the things that immediately stood out to me was the food limitations that would now be imposed on me.
Taking a concoction of immune suppressant medication meant that there was suddenly a whole list of foods that were off limits, things such as rare meat, blue cheeses, soft boiled eggs to name a few and an additional list of considerations when it came to food purchase and preparation.
Suddenly, eating was something that had to be thought about in a different way and calculated in terms of risk rather than just something I could enjoy. With hundreds of cookbooks at home, I was faced with the reality that I could no longer simply open one and cook from it – and I decided I wanted to do something about it.
Q. Is it just those who have had transplants that follow these rules?
I soon realised that in fact the diet that I was now restricted to was not simply for those who had received transplants.
There are thousands of people in the UK alone who are dealing with taking immune suppressants every day and so are restricted by the same dietary rules.
This includes anyone who has had an organ transplant, many people undergoing chemotherapy, those who have Crohn’s disease, rheumatoid arthritis or other autoimmune diseases as well as other conditions.
A. I want the book to look like a completely ‘normal’ cookbook – filled with beautiful images and recipes donated by some of the UK’s favourite chefs. It will include recipes for breakfasts, quick lunches, dinners in front of the TV, meals for special occasions and everything in between.
There will be some specific and expert medical advice at the forward of the book but I intend for other requirements and changes to recipes to be almost unnoticeable.
This way, cooking from the book will be a carefree experience and not a constant reminder of limitations and illness.
A. Creating a book is expensive, and creating a cookbook is more expensive than most. You need to pay for the design, the proofing, the printing as well as the photography.
With this book we also need to spend some money to employ a dietitian to check that each and every recipe is completely okay for the immune suppressed.
We want the book to compete with the normal cookbooks that you buy – full of delicious images. We definitely don’t want it to look like a booklet or medical text which lectures about diet rather than inspires you to get into the kitchen.
The aim is that with the money raised, we will create a book which can sit amongst other cookbooks, look just as great, and become a staple resource within your kitchen – whether you’re cooking for someone who is immune suppressed or not.
In addition, from the funds raised we will be able to donate a contribution to some charities that are very important to me. Initially, Papworth Hospital Charity, where I had my transplant, and The Brompton Hospital Charity, the hospital that kept me alive long enough that a transplant was possible.
The more we raise the more we will be able to donate, but even at a minimum it’s a significant amount.
A. I would be hugely grateful if after reading the above you might consider donating to support my project. The sum may seem large, but if we are going to do this, I want to do it properly and create something great. I hope with the support of as many people as possible it is achievable.
As you will see you can pledge varying amounts and I really do appreciate anything you might be able to donate. Every little really does help and I would love to be able to make this dream a reality, and have a positive and lasting legacy from my journey over the last few years.
You can donate to the Kickstarter campaign until 20th May – by following this link (it will open in a new browser window).
Nutrition is one of our big concerns at Independent Living. Our resident expert, former dietitian Mary Farmer, has a regular nutrition blogspot here.
Pippa Kent owes her life to the donor who provided two lungs. Organ donation is the greatest gift imaginable, and despite gradual changes to the system of consent, many people still die while on the waiting list – read more here
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