Friday, 15 May 2015

In Honour of our Donors

We received an invitation in the post a few weeks ago. It wasn't the sort of invitation that most people will ever get: not an invite to a wedding or a birthday party or some other usual type of celebration. It was one of those invitations that you feel both priviledged and humbled to receive, because you know that you and your family have been so fortunate and blessed where others and their families haven't.

Our invite was to a service of remembrance and thanksgiving at Ely Cathedral so we could give thanks to and remember those who had saved lives through donating their organs. It had been organised by NHSBT Eastern Region for families whose loved one's had donated organs and recipients and their families. Not many families are touched by these unique situations and it was going to be a very humbling celebration for us recipients to come together with those who have lost their loved ones and generously said 'yes' at a most harrowing time in their lives to enable others like me to have the gift of life. 

As a recipient of a new heart and pair of lungs - not just one organ, but three - I know I have been more than lucky to be offered a new chance of life and blessed that I've been able to recover and survive from a terminal and incurable illness. Receiving my new heart and lungs changed my life and my family's and also affected many friends and aquaintances - my donor's generosity and that of their family's rippled out far and wide and has left an everlasting legacy. 

On Sunday we were pleased to attend this wonderful and very moving celebration. I'd been worried I would become upset and it might feel too emotionally overwhelming. When you've had a life saving transplant, there is never a day goes by where you don't think of your donor and what has been done for you, you are always grateful. It is like no other operation - your emotions are consistently heightened and intertwined with your physical well being, because of the precious gift you have received. 

I literally stuffed my handbag with tissues and hoped for the best it wouldn't feel too much. When it actually came to it, the service was very moving, emotional too and I did need to fight a tear now and again, but above all -  for me - it was uplifting and it felt an honour to be there amongst so many who had given and lost so much. 

After the service we got chance to have tea and biscuits in the side chapel and it was great to meet up with so many of my other friends who had had transplants too. It was lovely to chat with some of our transplant nurses and doctors and meet new people as well - a real opportunity for our community to be together. 

Afterwards I lit candles: of course one for my own donor who has given me so much; a couple for other friends who couldn't get to the service, but so much wanted to be part of it and thank their donors too; one for friends we've sadly lost along the way; one for those friends who are struggling hard against illness and one for those friends who are still waiting and hoping for a new chance of life. 

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