DORCHESTER: Donors encouraged to sign up during Transplant Week
by Paul Crompton
DONORS and transplant patients have spoken of the emotional journey of those receiving a second chance at life after dialysis.
Both Runuka Coqhlan, who donated a kidney to her husband and Mark Slade, who received his second kidney transplant in 2007, spoke of their experiences during National Transplant Week
They were gathered at Dorchester County Hospital to encourage people to think about donating amid a massive shortage of donors throughout the UK.
The shortage has rapidly increased in the last decade and now sees three people die each day while awaiting new organs.
Mrs Coqhlan was impelled to donate her kidney to enhance her family’s life.
She said: “I wanted to donate a kidney because the quality of my husbands life was very poor, he was very scared of dialysis and we have two sons and he wanted them to have a father growing up and I was keen to improve his quality of life.
“He’s got a fairly normal life now after five years. I wanted to donate just so he could enjoy a quality of life and so he would have a second chance, which he wouldn’t have had otherwise.
“I would say to people there is really nothing to worry about being a live donor, just be sensible and look after yourself afterwards. It took me six months to recover, but it usually only takes most people three months.”
In March 2009 there was 8,000 people on the waiting list and only 900 donors. A marked difference from a decade ago when there were 5,400 on the waiting list and 2,438 transplants from 770 donors.
There are currently – as of April 1st 2010 – 7,946 people on the active transplant organ waiting list. A further 2,574 are on the suspended list because they are too ill to receive a transplant bringing the total waiting list to 10,548.
Mark Slade spent eight “debilitating” years on dialysis before receiving his second kidney after his body rejected a previous organ transplant from his mother in 2001.
He said: “It’s hard to explain what it was like waiting for a donor. It’s hard work on dialysis. It’s very debilitating, but I managed to hold down a job during that time.
“It’s not easy adjusting back to normal life again after being on dialysis at home, I got into a routine and after the transplant it’s not knowing where you stand, it’s a guessing game whether your blood tests will be ok.
“For me I’ve had my life given back to me, it’s given me a whole new lease of life, but it was hard work psychologically after the transplant.
“But donating a kidney gives someone a second chance at life; you are basically giving a life when you donate an organ.
“If someone is trying to decide whether to donate I would tell them to go and see someone who is not very well on dialysis and then go and see someone who has had a transplant.”
DCC Transplant Nurse Specialist Ruth Lale said: “It’s just about raising awareness of organ donation and promoting live donations. Most have altruistic motives because they want to feel good about themselves.
“We are trying to encourage donations and get people to think about it and maybe make a donation.
“We are severely lacking in organs in the UK but the donor rate has drifted down because people are living longer due to good medical treatment.
“The problem is the waiting list has gone up and up, and this week is about making people think about it and get registered.”
PICTURE: DCC transplant Specialist Christine Lawrence, lviing donor Runuka Coqhln, Dr Chris Chalker, Dr Andy Bell and DCC Transplant Nurse Specialist Ruth Lale