Back in November, I helped launch an NHS campaign to get more people talking about organ donation and signing up to the NHS Organ Donor Register.
I was filmed for 14 hours to highlight how frustrating it is waiting on the transplant list. It’s six weeks later, another Christmas gone, and I’m still waiting for a kidney. And I am not alone, thousands of people are waiting for a transplant in the UK. I’ve spent six Christmases in a row waiting on dialysis, and a seventh back before my first failed transplant. Seven out of 41 years. Another Christmas of hitting the wall part way through the day and having to stop and sleep. Another Christmas of taking myself away from my family to dialyse, four times on Christmas Day, four times on Boxing Day, four times every day. Another Christmas of having to watch what I eat; and drink only 1 litre of fluid a day.
Next year will be even more restrictive; by then I’ll be on haemodialysis (where your blood is filtered by a machine) and then chocolate, mushrooms, cheese and potatoes will be added to the banned list, amongst other items. All the good stuff, really. Probably a lower fluid allowance too.
Clearly, my hope is that this was my last Christmas on dialysis; that next year I’ll have a working transplant and boundless energy to play with my growing kids. That I’ll be able to take them out for a whole day at a time. Maybe even stay away from home, go to a lovely Christmas market, without a bucket load of medical supplies. That they can be proud of their daddy back at work as a doctor, and I in turn can proudly show them off to my work mates too.
I also hope that this is the last year in which 40 per cent of families say no to donation taking place when their relative could become a donor. We could save so many more lives if families said yes to donation.
So this New Year, how about making a resolution to talk about organ donation? In the cosy post-Christmas glow, maybe still in a party hat, maybe feeling rather overfull on turkey leftovers, take a moment to turn to your loved one during an advert break and say ‘If something happens to me, please let me donate’. Try out your shiny new tablet or phone and point it towww.organdonation.nhs.uk and sign the register. Give the ultimate gift.
Simon Howell, Burgess Hill
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