A WOMAN'S appeal to save her husbands's life has drawn a massive response - with more than 100 people coming forward as potential living donors.

Volunteers from as far away as Canada and America have asked to be tested to help Luigi Pignanelli who desperately needs a liver transplant.

Samantha Pignanelli asked the Ilkley Gazette for help after doctors told her they did not know if her husband would survive for long enough for a donor to be found. The story about his plight has been shared around the world prompting a phenomenal response.

Samantha, who runs the Emporio Italia restaurant in Ilkley with Luigi, said her husband had been moved to tears by the way people had reacted to the appeal.

"Luigi is very positive - it has made him feel so much better. It has put a smile on his face," she said.

Fifty people contacted the liver transplant programme at St James' Hospital in Leeds within days of the story appearing. A week later that figure had more than doubled - and medical staff have told Samantha they have never seen a response like it.

"There has been a huge response," she said. "They have been so inundated they couldn't get back to people as fast as they were wanting.

"There are people who have come forward from America, Canada, Scotland, London. It is amazing. I don't feel so alone now. There are so many customers of ours who have come forward to be tested ."

She said the scale of the reaction was incredible - with more than 18,000 tweets to her son's twitter account within less than two days of the story appearing.

Now the scores of people who have put themselves forward will start the rigorous assessment process, consisting of a number of stages, to make sure they are medically and psychologically suitable to be a donor and that they understand the risks. That process could take three to four weeks for each individual.

Luigi, 60, first became ill on holiday in Crete last August. He was diagnosed after collapsing at work in December, and was put on the list for a liver transplant.

Samantha made her impassioned plea for someone to donate a piece of their liver after a deterioration in his condition which almost killed him. The liver is much bigger than we need and can regenerate within weeks if a part of it is removed.

Anyone who wants to become a living liver donor can ring the Leeds transplant co-ordinators on 0113 2066913.

To help Luigi they should 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. They must be over the age of 18 and in excellent mental and physical health.