31ST OCTOBER 2011 –
“THE GIFT OF LIFE” only four little words but very emotive words that have a great deal of meaning to prospective organ donors and recipients alike. Firstly for the donors, it is a pledge to donate their organs after death to desperately ill patients who themselves without this gift are quite likely to die also it is for live donors, related and unrelated, to offer this gift as well but whatever the decision that is taken, it will always be on a voluntary basis, no coersion, laws or threats should ever be made. I believe in the U.K we urgently need more organ donations for desperately sick people, approximately 4000.
It is often asked, would you donate an organ and the answer is no, but if you or one of your loved ones needed a transplant, would you refuse to accept an organ transplant in all honesty? After all when we are dead we are either buried in the ground or cremated. No matter what colour, race, creed or religion, we all have to die at some time, some sadly earlier than wished. When we donate our organs the person who is the donor in some small way lives on in the recipient. I know this because on December 6th 1991 at Manchester Royal Infirmary a truly amazing donor and his or her amazing family gave me the Gift of Life in the manner that allowed me to have a kidney transplant and this coming December 6th 2011 I have had my kidney for 20 years. My donor and his or her family will always be in my heart and thoughts until my dying day. In the past 20 years I have done so much. I celebrated my 48th wedding anniversary on 21st September 2011. I have been with my wonderful wife, Norine for 50 years, my two children have grown up and lived their lives, I have 3 lovely granddaughters and a lovely grandson. I have travelled with my wife to many countries in the world including Dubai and Mauritius and made many new friends in these different places. A year after my transplant I took up the martial art Aikido and para-sailing at 1000 feet, this I was doing at the age of 70 years old. I have tried to live my life to the full, I feel anything seems possible and positive. All of this is down to my wonderful donor without whom my life would have been so very different.
In 1958/60 I was a combat medic in the Royal Army Medical Corp in the Persian Gulf, Aden and Yemen. After I left the Army I worked as a Chief Operating Theatre Technician in the Royal Liverpool Childrens Hospital from 1962 to 1967 then I went into surgical sales. I went back into the medical profession at the age of 60 and re-qualified as a senior operating department practitioner at Manchester Royal Infirmary theatres and I used to work as part of the transplant team on many occasions. It was the death of my sister Sandra that inspired me to go back to work in hospitals. I retired from Manchester Royal Infirmary at 65 but continued to work until I was nearly 69 as a locum Senior Operating Department Practitioner in many hospitals in the Greater Manchester Area. I even worked at St Mary’s Hospital in the Central Delivery Unit Theatres and helped as part of the team to deliver 60 babies into the world which is one of the proudest moments in my life. I have worked in every field of surgery on the Anaesthetic team.
In 1978 I found out I had Polycystic Kidney Disease which is a genetic renal disease which killed my dear Mum at the age of 50 years and my youngest sister Sandra at 53 years. My youngest brother Keith had a kidney transplant in Liverpool approximately 15 years ago. The Gift of Life is so very important to me as at this moment in time my own very dear Son John who also has the Polycystic Kidney Disease now needs a kidney transplant in the very near future, possibly a few months as his renal function is only 17% also his eldest daughter who is 20 also has the disease but at the moment she is enjoying her life in Australia for a year. My wonderful and brave wife Norine and equally wonderful brave daughter, Belinda, are being tested to see if they can give John the gift as a related live donor but only one of them will need to donate.
In the U.K we need to educate prospective donors, whether they be cadaver or live donor, that many seriously sick patients desperately need these organs to survive especially children who need this gift of life. There are so many improvements these days in organ donor transplants and the success rates are truly amazing, it is just the shortage of donors which is the problem and mis-information bantered about. In most of Europe the opt-out system is very successful, our government needs to look at this problem again. I am one of Manchester Royal Infirmary’s success stories. I may not be financially rich but I feel like a very lucky lottery winner with my kidney.
What made me sit down at last to write about this was that I read an article in the Manchester Evening News on 28th October 2011 about the wonderful inspirational young lady who had promoted 20,000 people to add their names to the organ donor list, Rachael Wakefield of Dukinfield who at the young age of 23 years died on Thursday 27th October 2011 after having a double lung transplant just over one-and-a-half years ago at Wythenshawe Hospital. Even in death she is still an inspiration.
A huge thank you again to my donor family for your loved one’s gift, my thoughts and my gratitude are with you this coming 6th December 2011 as it is the 20th anniversary of the death of your loved one.
Post Script and update, 18th December 2012.
Another year has gone by since I first wrote this article and I have now had my new kidney 21 years, and
To give even more joy my very brave and wonderful wife, Norine, donated one of her kidneys to our son
John on the 7th June 2012 at Manchester Royal Infirmary, in my estimation my admiration for all of the Renal Transplant Team grows and grows. Also my admiration for our daughter, Belinda is also relevant as she “Stepped up to the line and volunteered to donate one of her kidneys if needed.
On the 14th December , I received the news that I had prostate cancer, thankfully it is treatable, so what the heck another challenge to face and beat.
PPS. 2nd September 2013.
Still here, alive and kicking and this coming 6th December I will be celebrating having my kidney for 22 years, and more importantly on 21st of this month, Norine & I will be celebrating our Golden Wedding Anniversary, 50 years married, Norine deserves a medal.
Yesterday we were invited to the Greater Manchester Kidney Information Network ( GMKIN ) Launch at University of Salford , TV Media Centre. At Media City, Salford. In conjunction with Hope Kidney PatientsAssociation. A very interesting venue, with a great bunch of people in attendance. Norine, Albena, John and I had a great day.