A Colne man who had a kidney transplant 10 years ago has spoken of how the operation has made a difference to his life – and called on more people to let their families know they want to donate their organs.
Kevin Vickers, who has Alports Syndrome, a hereditary genetic condition whose effects include kidney failure, spoke out as the NHS Blood and Transplant Service launched the Christmas List campaign, which draws attention to the thousands of people who are waiting for a transplant across the UK and to encourage everyone to join the NHS Organ Donor Register.
There are currently 173 people in Lancashire on the waiting list for a transplant will be hoping they will soon get the gift of an organ.
Not all of those waiting will get the transplant they need.
New figures show 10 patients in Lancashire have died while on the transplant waiting list this year, and their families will be facing Christmas without them.
Other people have been more fortunate and will be able to celebrate Christmas looking ahead to a brighter future. 111 patients in Lancashire have received a transplant already this year thanks to families agreeing to donate a loved one’s organs.
Kevin received a kidney transplant in October, 2004 and was well enough to enjoy his first Christmas in five years without dialysis that year.
By the time of his transplant, his health was very bad and he had to give up activities like rock climbing and travelling.
After his transplant, Kevin was inspired to change his career from a finance manager to something that would benefit other people.
He became a tutor with Lancashire Adult Learning, specialising in employment skills and giving people the confidence to return to work.
He said: “I am aware that some day I will need another transplant.
“I try not to think about it too much, but I know that again I will be dependant on the kindness of strangers to make the decision to donate the organs of a loved one.
“My transplant means everything to me. It means having a career instead of being too ill to work, it means being able to go on holiday without tons of equipment and it means I don’t have to dialyse any more.”
Like many supporting the campaign, Kevin made a Christmas Wish list. He wrote:
l I wish more people would let their loved ones know that they want to donate their organs.
l I wish the family of my donor knew how grateful I am for the chance they gave me.
l l wish Christmas shopping was easier!
Through its Christmas List campaign, NHS Blood and Transplant is highlighting the stories of patients waiting for a transplant and those who have received them, donor families and nurses who support families when they donate a loved one’s organs.
To join the NHS Organ Donor Register, visit www.organdonation.nhs.uk, call 0300 123 23 23 or text SAVE to 62323. Once you’ve signed up tell those closest to you that you want to donate.