From 7th July until 14thit is National Transplant Week and although the vast majority of us would happily receive a donor organ, only 29% of us actually have a donor card or have signed up to the NHS Organ Donor Register. The National Transplant website start off their campaign by stating ‘It’s annoying when you have to wait for something, whether it’s your morning coffee, the bus or a parcel. Now imagine having to wait for something that your life depended on…. an organ.’ For those amongst us who are thankfully healthy and fit, fortunately this is something we do not have to worry about but for those whose lives depend on the kindness of others, this is a very tiring and frustrating situation, both for them and their families.
National Transplant Week is an annual event this year is being organised by the charity National Transplant. With the tag line “What are you waiting for”, which relates to all those awaiting transplants whilst the shortage of donors is so great, the campaign hopes again to raise awareness of the shortage of people holding donor cards and impress upon people what it is really like to live waiting for a transplant. The website www.transplantweek.co.uk has stories of people suffering from incurable diseases and illnesses for which a transplant is their only hope, it also shows success stories from those who have already had transplants and are living a healthy life, thanks to the generosity of friends, family or strangers.
One such person is Ali Hamilton, who was lucky enough to have a friend donate a kidney to her. Diagnosed with Polycystic Kidney Disease (PKD) at 19 years old, she was hospitalised in 2007 and was warned to look for a Living Donor as it was likely she would need a transplant or dialysis within the next year or two. An extremely generous friend offered to be her donor and luckily she was a good match, so they had the operation in 2008. Ali says that “I feel so much better since I had the transplant. The initial post-transplant period is very scary and difficult while you adjust to the drug regime, but I can now make plans for my future, which I couldn’t even think about before.”
It makes perfect sense that if you are prepared to accept an organ for yourself if you should need it, or for a member of your family, then you should get a donor card or sign up yourself to the register, in the hope and expectation that another person will be willing and able to do that for you if it is needed. It must be a truly amazing thing to give another person the gift of life and any person who is helped in this way truly appreciates that gift.
More than 10,000 people in the UK currently need a transplant. Of these, 1000 each year – that’s three a day – will die waiting as there are not enough organs available. National Transplant Week are calling on the UK public to reduce the waiting times for a transplant by signing up to the NHS Organ Donor Register.