Saturday, 23 April 2016

Dogs, Norfolk and Birthday Time Again

April. That time of year again. Birthdays. Another celebration. A time to just stop and think about how lucky I've been and appreciate life. I wouldn't have believed I'd reach this milestone a few years back, but here I am enjoying precious moments with my family all thanks to the special person who gave me my second chance in life two and a half years ago now. Another birthday celebration. 

My family planned me a surprise weekend in one of my favourite places, Brancaster in Norfolk. As we now have Ted our cocker spaniel pup, and Sarah and Oli have Alfie, their cocker spaniel. We stayed in a very lovely and dog friendly pub and took our dogs with us. 

Now this may seem silly, but this was another one of my dreams - yes sometimes my dreams may seem small. But I just had this picture of us all when I was thinking of having a puppy last year. All of us walking together on the beach with our dogs running riot, having a whale of a time running in and out of the sea or running in the countryside, while we just all strolled along relaxed, chatting and happy. 

And now that little dream has come true. I didn't ever believe life could move on so much from how it once was. That I'd be walking and running on beaches chasing after two cocker spaniels. Well mainly chasing after Ted, as it was his first outing to the beach! 

I'd said to Sarah when we first had Ted, that I couldn't wait for us all to go away together with the dogs. While we were down on the beach Sarah asked, 'Is this what you'd imagined?' And yes it was. Breathing the fresh sea air deep down in my precious new lungs; walking and running; just being with my family; laughing and playing games with our energetic young dogs. Simple pleasures, precious moments and making more new memories. 

That is the miracle of organ donation. 


Tuesday, 12 April 2016

In Honour of Our Donors

On the 7th April, there was an unveiling and dedication ceremony for the Donor Family Network 'Gift of Life' memorial at the National Arboretum, Alrewas, near Lichfield. The memorial is to commemorate the lives of organ and tissues donors and acknowledge and celebrate the significance of what they have given in saving and transforming the lives of others. The most precious and wonderful gift that anyone could ever give. The ceremony was attended by the Duke of Gloucester, families of donors and transplant recipients and their families. 

The Donor Family Network is a leading donor family charity in the transplant community and aims to raise awareness of organ donation and provide support for donor families. 

As a transplant recipient I try to honour my donor every day in some way -  they are always in my thoughts as well as their family. I'm pretty certain most transplant recipients feel that way too. To have a national memorial for our donors is very important to us, as it signifies to others the miracle of leaving such a legacy and it gives us a place to visit and pay our respects to those that have both transformed and saved our lives. 

To have our donors publicly acknowledged to the world means so much to us recipients, as well as to their families. A national memorial is a huge statement highlighting the importance of organ donation to everyone. Personally, I cannot wait to go and see it and will definitely be visiting the arboretum this summer and hopefully with some other members of my 'transplant' family. 

I wrote my first book in honour of my donor and to raise awareness of the importance of organ donation. It explains what it feels like to be living on the transplant list. I lived on the list for just over two years and it was an extremely difficult time when I knew that three people die each day on the organ donor register. There are still circa six thousand five hundred people waiting for a transplant and still three people die each day waiting for a transplant. That is why our donors and their families are so special to us. 

Extracts about living on the transplant list from 'Life is for the Living':

'We are ...treading warily through the sand, avoiding puddles left by the sea. Some of them are deep. We don't want to get our feet wet or sink...we are living on a list. The first day of living on a list and we are stepping cautiously.'

'I know I'm lucky to have survived this first year on the transplant list...Three people a day are still dying waiting for a transplant...One thousand and ninety five people won't have survived this year while I've been waiting...'

Below are links to news on the 'Gift of Life' memorial and the Donor Family Network website. 

The Donor Family Network

Photos: Donor Family Network