Organ Donation Week: Recorder speaks to those affected about why you should join the donor register
PUBLISHED: 13:30 06 September 2017
Clive Gee/PA Archive/PA Images
Knowing that you have the ability to potentially save someone’s life at any moment, is both a surreal and an amazing feeling.
To mark Organ Donation Week, reporter Hayley Anderson has spoken to just a few of those whose lives have been affected by someone signing up to the Organ Donor Register.
Becoming a world champion badminton player seemed like just a dream for one 17-year-old girl, but after her dad donated his kidney to her, she was able to make it into a reality.
Two years ago Charlotte Archer-Gay, 17, of Havering-atte-Bower, had been dependent on dialysis treatment four nights a week, had severe diet restrictions, and could not take part in sports and other activities.
But for Charlotte, this was only the start of her journey as after her dad 50-year-old Philip Gay donated his kidney, she was encouraged to once again take up sport as part of her rehabilitation.
She joined the after school badminton club held at Bower Park Academy and was later invited to the British Transplant Games last year where she won two gold medals.
After also joining the Havering-based Eagles Badminton Club and on the back of her success, Charlotte was then selected to take part in the World Transplant Games in Malaga earlier this year.
It was here that she won two silver medals and one gold for ladies doubles.
Dad Philip said: “Her badminton success has given her the drive to stay well and improve her game by joining two local badminton clubs.
“I’m very proud of what Charlotte has managed to achieve.”
A nurse and heart transplant recipient who was able to take care of his wife during her final days thanks to the life-saving operation, is pleading for people to join the donation register.
Ernesto Antonio, 53, a charge nurse who works in theatres across the Barking, Havering and Redbridge University Hospitals Trust, was lucky enough to receive a transplant when he was 18, after a virus led to multiple organ failure.
Without the heart, donated by a 26-year-old man who died after taking Ecstasy, Ernesto would not have survived, leaving his daughter Isabella, then five, without a dad, and his wife Kate, a widow.
Ernesto met Kate when they were both working at the trust’s former hospital, Oldchurch, in 1989.
Kate, a former theatre sister at the Trust, sadly died of breast cancer 18 months ago.
He said: “I can’t describe the wait for an organ, you just wait and hope.
“I’d encourage people to sign up, make that decision now, especially as it can be very difficult for your family to make after your death.
“The best thing for me is that having my transplant meant I was there to raise my daughter, and I was there to care for my wife when she needed me.”
A fund dedicated to the memory of a hockey player who died in a “freak accident” and had his organs donated, has raised thousands of pounds.
The Tom Wilson Memorial Fund, which raises money for research into head injuries and brain tumours, as well as promoting organ donation, was set up after the 22-year-old, from Hornchurch, was accidentally hit on the head with a hockey stick during a training session and later died.
When his parents realised how severe their son’s injuries were, they considered organ donation but did not know that in his first week at Nottingham Trent University, Tom had signed up to the Organ Donor Register.
Lisa, 53, said: “One of my concerns was that would he still look like Tom after donating his organs and tissue but we saw him after the process and he just looked angelic.
“It gave us comfort knowing that this was what he wanted.”
Tom’s donated organs were given to more than 20 people and Lisa says as he was also a tissue donor, he may have helped save up to 50 lives.
Lisa said: “I would whole heartedly recommend organ donation.
“It gives us great comfort to know that something positive has come out of such a tragic event.
“Out of such sadness, there is hope.”
After a successful lung transplant six years ago, a 30-year-old woman has gone from strength to strength in starting her own business and becoming an ambassador at Queen’s Hospital.
Victoria Tremlett, of Heath Park Road, Romford, suffered with hereditary condition cystic fibrosis and had to wait four years for a transplant but when she finally had the operation, it made the world of difference.
“My life is transformed now,” she said.
“I still have health issues that demand time but I can walk and talk and be independent.
“I’ve seen my nieces and nephews grow up, spent time with my family, and a million little things I would never have had chance to do without my precious donor and their family.”
Since the operation, Victoria has completed a university degree in English Literature, achieving first class honours, started up cake-making business Scrumdiddlyumptious Cakes and is now a tissue donation ambassador for the Rom Valley Way hospital.
She spent Tuesday, September 5 at a stall in the hospital’s atrium, supporting the trust’s campaign for organ donation.
“Tissue donation is often not given the publicity that organs get but can play a huge part in transforming lives for the better. It means a lot to me to be able to give back when I was given such an amazing gift.”
To sign up to the Organ Donor Register visit here