We supported the National Organ Donation Week, which ran until Sunday (10 September), the week our Chief Executive Matthew Hopkins returned to work after a kidney transplant in March this year.
We hosted an information stall at Queen’s Hospital on Tuesday (5 September) and had over 60 people sign up to the organ donation register there and then – the highest ever number to do it on the spot.
Several other people took the time to find out more about organ donation, and get information on signing up for themselves and their families online.
Matthew Hopkins, our Chief Executive, said: “It was a very apt week for me to return to work following my kidney transplant earlier this year.
“Organ donation is a topic I feel passionately about, so I was delighted that so many people stopped by our stall and thank you to everyone who signed the organ donation register. To receive a donated organ is a remarkable gift, as I can personally vouch. I’d encourage anyone thinking about it to sign up, it takes just minutes to sign up online. Please also remember to tell your next of kin that you wish to donate your organs, this saves leaving your family to wonder about your wishes when the time comes.”
As well as specialist organ donation nurses, the stall was also hosted by donor recipients including theatre charge nurse at the Trust, Ernesto Antonio, 53, who had a heart transplant 18 years ago, and Tor Tremlett, 30, of Heath Park Road, Romford, who had a double lung transplant six years ago.
It takes just two minutes to join the organ donation register online.
While many people pledge to donate their organs after they die, Sue Geary, one of our advanced support workers in interventional radiotherapy, went one step further and became a living donor.
She saved the life of dad Sid Robertson, now 70, by donating one of her kidneys to him nine years ago. The pair even ended up on TV when their operation was filmed for the BBC Hospital Heroes series.
Sue, 51, said: “He had diabetes and his kidneys were failing. He’d been told he would need a transplant one day but we never expected it to come. They were going to put him on the transplant list and give him dialysis; I said ‘no way, you can have one of mine’.
“I don’t think he believed me at first. I didn’t think it was a big deal, not until I saw the film of our operation and it hit me. I still get emotional thinking about it now. It changed his life completely and
He is in perfect health now.”
Sid’s four other children were not able to donate due to their own health. Luckily, when he and Sue, who has a grown-up son, step-daughter and two grandchildren, were tested they were a perfect match.
The operation, which took place at Royal London Hospital, has left the pair with a special bond.
Sid said: “When she first said about it I was worried what it meant for her, but the surgeon said her life expectancy would actually be better due to the regular checks they give you. I always thought it should be a father giving to a daughter and not the other way round, words cannot express how grateful I am and how much I love her.
“She fitted into the palm of my hand when she was born, and she’s saved my life. She’s incredible.”
Sue, of Ashbrook Road, Dagenham, is keen to encourage others to consider being a living donor, for your own family, or for others.
She added: “When I went for tests they asked if I was not compatible with my dad, whether I’d consider donating to a stranger. I didn’t hesitate to say yes because I’d want someone to do it for my loved one if I wasn’t a match.
“They were very open about the procedure and the risks, so I didn’t go into it with blinkers on, but I feel no different now. I have annual checks at the hospital and I can go back any time I need to. If I had three to four kidneys I’d give away more. My dad calls my kidney ‘little Sue’ and it’s an amazing feeling to have saved his life. If you’re thinking about it, I’d recommend you speak to someone who has donated.”
Sid finished: “This has meant I’m able to do normal things again, like shopping and gardening, and looking after my wife.
“When they put ‘little Sue’ in, the doctors were amazed that it started working straight away, usually the transplanted organ takes a while to wake up. I feel really good now, and I’ll never forget what she did for me.”
Pictured above are Sue and her dad Sid.