INTERNATIONAL ORGAN DONATION AWARENESS-UNITED KINGDOM
Donor benefactor hopes photo exhibition will encourage others to give
Jul 1 2010 By Greg Burns Fulham Chronicle.co.uk, the Chronicle
AT THE age of 19, Holly Cocker was diagnosed with renal kidney failure and placed on a life-saving dialysis machine.
After five years waiting for a suitable donor, one of her closest friend's stepped up and gave up a kidney to save her life.
Professional photographer Holly, now 25, of Fanthorpe Street, Putney, is hoping to inspire other people to donate organs with a special week-long exhibition on show at Hammersmith Hospital.
She spent a year travelling the length and breadth of the country to meet other families and capture their stories of donating and receiving organs and shooting their pictures.
The 17 photograph exhibition, entitled Give and Let Live, will be on display at the second floor of the West London Renal and Transplant Centre during National Transplant Week from July 4-11.
She said: "I did a lot of research and found some amazing people who had similar stories to tell. It was a really great experience to meet other people and I think it was really cathartic for them too."
But it is all a far cry from 2003 when her diagnosis saw her life turned upside down.
She said: "I had been feeling unwell for ages and then the doctor finally got to the bottom of it. To be honest, it was really scary but in a weird way I was relieved that they had found what it was.
"My condition basically meant I had small kidneys which I was probably born with. But as I was getting older they were not able to work properly.
"The bottom line is that you can not be on dialysis forever and I was always so exhausted. I am not sure how long my body would have survived without the donor."
Her friend Oli Foggin, 28, of Leeds, took the brave decision to become her donor and changed Holly's life.
But the University of the Arts student knows that the thought of donating organs or facing up to their own morality is not easy for the majority of people to digest.
She said: "People do not want to think about death which is normal because it can be a taboo subject. But when you experience something like this yourself or if it happens to a family member then it becomes real.
"But it should not take that to happen for people to sign the donor register. It takes a very special person to donate an organ and save another's life. It is a completely selfless act and an operation the donor would otherwise not need to have.
"I think for all of us recipients our donors are heroes."