A WIFE is making a desperate appeal for a living donor to save her husband's life.

Luigi Pignanelli is seriously ill with sclerosis of the liver and although he is on the transplant list doctors cannot say if he will survive for long enough for a donor to be found.

Now after a deterioration in his condition, which almost killed him last week, his wife Samantha is appealing for someone to give a piece of their own liver.

The couple, who run the Emporia Italia restaurant in Ilkley have been together for more than 27 years and have three children and a grandson. Luigi does not drink.

Samantha, who is not a match for Luigi, said: "My husband is in desperate need of a liver transplant. Time is ticking away for him. The doctors are saying to me that basically I have to start appealing for people to come forward to help."

Luigi's blood group means he has less chance of finding a suitable donor than people with other blood types.

Samantha said : "It is not self-inflicted but he is seeing people coming in the bay and going out and he is still there. It's heart breaking. The waiting list is so much longer because of his blood group."

Five family members were travelling from Italy this week to be tested - but there is no guarantee any of them will be suitable. Samantha is appealing to other people to come forward before time runs out.

Luigi, 60, first became ill on holiday in Crete last August, when he was exhausted and unable to eat. He went to the doctor back at home and was still having tests when he collapsed at work in December. He was rushed to St James's Hospital in Leeds, where he was diagnosed.

Samantha is urging people to come forward to see if they are eligible to donate a part of their liver by ringing 0113 2066913.

She stressed her husband would have been the first to offer if the the situation had been reversed.

"He is always a very happy and positive person and always the first to come forward to help anyone," she said.

Anyone who wants to help needs to be blood group O positive, with a BMI of less than 30. They should be a non-smoker, or be prepared to stop, and should not be on the contraceptive pill, or be willing to stop.

In its information booklet The Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust says: "In Leeds, at any point in time, there are at least 50 people waiting for a liver transplant, and every year this situation is getting worse. Patients may have to wait for more than a year for a liver to become available and waiting times are getting longer. As a result of this, approximately 1 in 5 patients on the waiting list either die before an organ becomes available or are removed from the waiting list because they become too sick to survive the operation."

It says the liver is much bigger than we need and can regenerate within weeks if a part of it is removed. Anyone who comes forward and is found to be suitable will have the risks of live donor surgery explained to them and will be able to pull out at any time.