As it's National Transplant Week, we thought we'd take the opportunity to share some amazing stories of people who are affected by Organ Donation or Transplantation.
First up is one of our supporters Paul Kirsop; he shares his story in his own words in the hope it will encourage more people to sign up to the Organ Donor Register.
I am 32 years old, I live with my partner Ruth and two daughters, Jennifer aged 6 and Emma aged 5. I was 27 when I was diagnosed with C.O.P.D, which resulted in me requiring a double lung transplant.
In January 2010, I received my third and final call. I just had a feeling about this one, I knew this was it. At this point I had been waiting around 20 months for a donor, I was on oxygen pretty much 24 hours a day and my lung function had decreased to 17%. I was unable to do things for myself, even getting from one room to another was exhausting. Life had turned into a day-to-day struggle. My daughters kept me going and gave me hope as I found myself saying to them “WHEN Daddy gets better”. I dreamed of running around the garden with my girls and spinning them round like dads do, having a good game of snooker and even putting my own socks on!
The day of my call I was at home on my own; Ruth and the girls were having a day out. I was playing on my playstation when my phone rang. I made my calls, got my bag together and waited for my brother, Stephen to take me to the Freeman Hospital. When I look back now it all seems so fast.
Upon arrival at the Freeman Hospital, I was informed it would be 4-5 hours before we would find out if it was all to go ahead. As I waited for Ruth and the girls to arrive to say my goodbyes I had this sure feeling this really was it. Someone had given me a second chance. It was the most emotional time of my life saying goodbye to my girls, and then having to watch them walking down the corridor wondering if it would be the last time I see them.
Shortly after this I was prepped for theatre. And around 10:30 pm I was told it was definitely happening and was in theatre for 12:30 am. Seven hours later I was out of theatre and in I.C.U. I woke up two days later; I remember my coordinator telling me I’ve made it through the other side and a huge sense of relief surrounded me.
On the third day I was up on my feet doing exercises, on the fourth day I was off the ventilator and out of I.C.U. It was a new, wonderful sensation; I was actually breathing on my own. It was an amazing feeling to be breathing pain free, what I’d be waiting for, for so long. It has given me an altogether different meaning of the word appreciation as words cannot describe how thankful I am to my donor and donor’s family. They have not just given me my life back but Jenny and Emma a Daddy back, Ruth her partner back and a chance for me to watch my two little girls grow up.
Ten days after my transplant it was my 32nd birthday, it was the first time I got to see Ruth, Jennifer and Emma since I said my goodbyes for theatre. The nurses had secretly arranged a little party; I had been told children weren’t allowed to visit so it was a lovely surprise and a great boost for me. Two weeks later I was home; I had made an amazing recovery.
It was great being home and having a new beginning but at the same time I was extremely nervous without my lifeline, having to take nebulisers every few hours and oxygen tubes following me around. I had the support of my oxygen for so long, it was as if I had been set free. It did not take me long to get used to it though and was soon able to start living my life again. I had been given a second chance and plan to make the most of it.
On the 26th of May 2010 I was already living the dream as I played a great snooker hero of mine, Jimmy White. It was in support of the Bobby Robson cancer foundation, raising £4,700 on the night. It was so surreal for me I could not believe how lucky I’ve been , 4 month previous I couldn’t manage a frame of snooker without exhaustion, now I was playing at ease with one of the greatest and beat him!
This is my story, if it had not been for my donor it may have had a different ending, this is why organ donation is so important. There are many others out there like myself who are still waiting. Hero’s are not just firemen, policemen and surgeons but in every walk of life, anyone could be a hero and save lives. You could be one just by signing the organ donor register. You can do it online and it only takes a minute.
If you want to see the amazing contrast take a quick look at Paul's story from when he was waiting for his transplant here.