Have you ever said to yourself – “Gosh – my life hasn’t turned out the way I thought it would” or “Gosh – I never saw that one coming”. Well I can honestly say my life has not turned out the way I thought it would – not in a million years. And why do I find that so bewildering. Well I am just a normal person. Happy and healthy. Or so I thought I was. Happy – most certainly. Healthy – well that is a different story altogether.
Having been ill for many months, in October 2009 I had a lung biopsy to determine what I was suffering from. At the same time my sister Sue donated a kidney to a very good friend of hers and whilst she and I were recuperating we would phone each other regularly. I was truly inspired by Sue – she had literally saved and transformed her friend’s life. I then started to think “what can I do that will make a difference?”
In January 2010 I got the diagnosis I was dreading – two serious lung diseases. The long and short of this is that my lungs are fibrosing which means breathing is going to become more and more difficult and a lung transplant will be not only necessary – it will be my only option.
Time has become very special to me and I want some good to come from these two hideous diseases that will take my life if I do not get the transplant. Having spoken to several doctors about organ donation I realised that there is such an acute shortage of organs and the tragedy is that three people die every day just because they are one organ short of life. You may never need a transplant yourself but what if one of your loved ones did. How helpless would you feel then?
To this end I started Save5 and my goal now before I die is to get 10,000 extra people registered as organ donors because when this happens I know we will save some lives. And why did I call my campaign Save5 – because you could save 5 lives.
Since starting Save5 I have spoken to many people and I have listened to many people and I have to say I am truly concerned about the myths that surround organ donation. For instance most people think that just because they register as an organ donor – they will automatically be an organ donor. Oh my goodness I wish that was the case but in truth it is not. In the vast majority of cases you have to die in an Intensive Care Unit normally having either been in a major car accident; or had a brain haemorrhage; or suffered severe brain injury or a stroke BEFORE your organs can even be considered for transplantation. Statistically you are more likely to need a transplant yourself than you ever actually becoming an organ donor.
Another fact is that there is absolutely no medical condition (past or present) including cancer or diabetes that prevents anyone from registering as an organ donor. There is also absolutely no medication or treatment taken (past or present) that prevents anyone from registering as an organ donor. And what the doctors are urging people to do is just to register and should you die in those elite circumstances I have just mentioned let them decide whether your organs are suitable for transplantation. They may not be – but at least you tried. But what if they were suitable – what if you could Save5 lives? What an amazing legacy to leave behind.
Another common myth surrounds age. Well once again there is absolutely no age barrier preventing anyone from registering as an organ donor. And one final point is that if you have one of the old Donor Cards you will not be on the NHS Database and therefore it is really important that you register online so that your wishes are known. Many people say to me “well my family know my wishes”. Please do not leave that responsibility entirely on your family – who knows where they may be at the critical moment.
Many people once they have heard me speak say to me “can I think about whether I want to register” and I always reply “no problem but while you are thinking – think on this. Would you take a transplant to save your own life? And if your mum or your child needed a transplant would you just hope there was an organ available? And now that you know three people die every single day because they were one organ short of life – are you now concerned that you – your mum or your child could be one of those statistics?”
All of a sudden it becomes a reality. Remembering the incredible fact that you are more likely to need a transplant yourself than ever becoming an actual donor really hits hard.
You can make a difference, now.
So how can you help? How can you make a difference? How can you help me achieve my last goal before I die? To this end I have made it very simple. All you have to do is go to www.save5.org.uk to register as an organ donor. It will take one minute of your life to register but you could Save5 lives. Thank you.