Ahead of National Transplant Week – which begins on Monday – the Gazette is launching a campaign to get readers to think about signing up to the Organ Donor Register.
It’s something that takes just a few minutes but each registration save the lives of up to nine people should the worse happen to you.
There are more than 7,000 people waiting for organ transplants in the UK and three people die every day while waiting for a life-changing op.
The Gazette will be promoting the Organ Donor Register at the Marlowes Shopping Centre on Saturday (July 6), so why not pop down to find out more. You can find us near the Mothercare store in the north side of the mall.
Backing the campaign is mum of two Fiona Loud, who spend years waiting for a kidney transplant, and now promotes the organ register in West Herts. Here’s her story:
A mum who spent years waiting for a kidney transplant and now volunteers with a hospital committee that promotes organ donation is asking people to take just five minutes to consider signing up and saving lives.
Putting your name on the donation register and telling loved ones your wishes could help save the lives of others should the worst ever happen to you.
Although your own death is an uncomfortable thing to contemplate, there are 7,515 people in the UK waiting for organ transplants and this difficult subject needs to be met head on.
Of those waiting for a transplant, 6,282 need kidneys and 472 need a liver .
It’s tough for those patients to stay positive about their chances when in 2011/12 just 30 per cent of the UK population were on the Organ Donor Register.
Fiona Loud, who is lay chair of the West Herts Hospital Organ Donation Committee, spent almost five years waiting for a kidney transplant in the wake of cancer caused by a genetic condition that went undiagnosed for many years.
The 53-year-old said: “From the experiences I have had and talking to lots of people and learning a lot about it, I encourage everybody to think about putting their name on the organ donation register. What I would like to encourage people to do is take five minutes now to have a think about it.
“Nobody likes to think about death but when you have been ill you think about death and you realise how precious life is.”
It was not until Fiona was in her 30s and pregnant with her first child that things started to go wrong.
Complications put down to pre-eclampsia meant daughter Emily – now 21 – had to be delivered at 311/2 weeks. Two years later Fiona had a smooth pregnancy with son Tom, now 19, and it was not until seven years after Emily’s birth that the mum was diagnosed with kidney cancer.
Half of one of her kidneys had to be removed and because what was left was not working properly she had to have daily dialysis.
Fiona said: “I was told that my kidneys were likely to fail but it might not be for many, many years. Unfortunately it happened less than three years later.”
For the first year the IT worker was able to continue working because she could have treatment four times a day at home, but later she had to attend hospital three days a week for blood dialysis.
“I had to stop working because I wasn’t well enough,” said Fiona, “I went on the transplant list but I was never ever called despite being relatively young and fit in other ways. After three years my husband came forward as a donor. We were two weeks away from surgery and they discovered I had kidney cancer again.”
This meant surgeons had to remove Fiona’s remaining kidneys. She then waited a further two years on the transplant list before husband Keith stepped up again.
Speaking about her recovery Fiona said: “You are not suddenly this completely different person but I have been very, very fortunate and have been able to go back to work.”
She works two days a week as a director for the Kidney Alliance as well as taking on a range of voluntary positions.
The West Herts Hospital Organ Donation Committee works to improve organ donation and awareness of it.
The group is commissioning a piece of art to promote the Organ Donor Register, which will go on display in Watford General Hospital’s main reception.
They also host awareness days and target specific groups of the community.
Earlier this year ITV launched a drive – backed by well-known faces such as actor Simon Cowell and Olympic diver Tom Daley – to encourage people to sign up to the register. The campaign ran in the same week as Valentine’s Day.
To find out more about registering as a donor click here or call 0300 123 23 23.