AS A TWO-TIME KIDNEY TRANSPLANT RECIPIENT, I WANTED TO SAY "THANK YOU" TO ALL REGISTERED ORGAN DONORS AND TO THE INCREDIBLE NHS TRANSPLANT TEAMS THAT MAKE IT ALL POSSIBLE.
I BELIEVE THAT ORGAN DONATION IS AN AMAZING ACT OF HUMANITY THAT DESERVES TO BE BETTER RECOGNISED.
SO I'M GIVING A JUST DID IT T-SHIRT TO ANYONE REGISTERED AS AN ORGAN DONOR. IT'S MY WAY OF SAYING THANK YOU FOR YOUR SELFLESS ACT OF KINDNESS.
HOW IT WORKS
Once you’ve registered at YES I DONATE, you’ll be sent a thank you email and you'll also be sent a letter and an Organ Donors card, along with all your details to check. If you are already a registered donor just go straight to GET YOUR T-SHIRT.
Now that you're registered you just need to come back here and go GET YOUR T-SHIRT. When you get your t-shirt, use it to have a simple " JUST DID IT" conversation with you family and the people closest to you. Let them know you're in favour of Organ Donation and that you've registered as an Organ Donor. Wear your t-shirt to show others that you're a Registered Organ Donor and help create a positive image and healthy conversation around Organ Donation and the conversation of consent.
Help me BigUp Organ Donation by joining the conversation and posting a picture of yourself wearing your T-shirt on your social platforms and link it in with ours. Send us a picture with you wearing your JUST DID IT t-shirt and with your permission, we’ll publish it here and on our social platforms as a thank you. Link yourself to the pics and use them on your social media to encourage your friends to join the conversation and BigUP Organ Donation.
Thanks again for helping me BigUP Organ Donation.
BigUP Organ Donation
"I felt the need to do something positive for Organ Donation"
My own journey learning about organ donation started some 34 years ago when I was just 12 years old... I was 25 before I knew I’d need a donor of my own.
I shared my understanding of organ donation for the first time when I was 13 and in second year of high school. My English teacher had sent the class home with a weekend homework assignment, to write a 500 word essay about something we thought we knew well. Like a hobby or sport we played, or something in our lives that really mattered to us. I chose to write about organ donation and the reason it had become part of my life - And, most importantly, why I wanted more people to become organ donors.
The reason was, it was only a year before that, my mother had suddenly taken kidney failure due to an undetected genetic condition called Alports disease. So I was learning about the importance of organ donation from a new and personal viewpoint. I wasn't particularly good at English but for once that didn’t matter. I just wrote down everything that was going on in my life at the time. My 500 words quickly grew to nearly 1000 and much to my surprise (and my teachers), I got the best grade I’d had that year, by far. My teacher had been visibly moved by what I’d written and had quietly asked, if I’d like to read my essay out to the class. The 13 year old me was too shy to read it out loud, but I agreed that she could, if she really wanted to. And so, she did.
It’s now been 33 years since my A+ in English and in that time my mother and I have had five kidney transplants between us. She having received three transplants through her ongoing fight with Alports disease. And myself receiving two, through having inherited the same Alports disease. My second transplant only being 18 months ago at the time of writing this.
The first time I took kidney failure I was 25 years old and flying high with life. Running and part owning one of Edinburgh’s newest and most popular nightclubs, I was enjoying the spoils that go with the success, life was good and I felt on top of the world. Then, without warning i was floored. I was admitted to hospital and diagnosed with kidney failure. I was extremely fortunate and received a kidney transplant from the national organ donor register within four months of my need. Although distressing at the time it was over quickly and I was able to move on with my life.
After 14 years of keeping me well, sadly my kidney transplant started showing signs of rejection. I knew what was ahead of me and the realisation that all was not well, hit me harder than the first time. Not long after this news, my mother got the chance of her third kidney transplant after 18 years on hemodialysis. Although the transplant was a success she sadly passed away due to other complications within a year. Nine months later I had to start dialysis. At the start it was extremely challenging for me emotionally as well as physically, every second day I'd make the journey to the same place, for the same treatment I'd watched my mother suffer for the past 18 years.
I had been been dialysing for around a year and a half when one day, I arrived at the hospital for treatment as usual, to be met by the doctors with the news that a match had been found for me. From an altruistic donor! Someone, somewhere in the UK, had walked into a hospital and offered to donate one of their kidneys to a stranger in need. I turned out to be their best match and surgery was scheduled for 5 weeks time. Sadly over the following few weeks I fell ill due to complications with my old transplant. My body had started to create new antibodies to fight this problem and so, I was no longer the best match. Surgery for me was cancelled and the donation went on to the next best match. As disappointed as I was for myself, to potentially be on the receiving end of this kind of selfless generosity and kindness from a complete stranger, blew my mind. Still does. It also gave me hope for the future.
After another few years of hemodialysis (every second day attending hospital for treatment), to my surprise, I was again met by the doctors with the news of a another possible match. This time from a donor on the national organ donor register. Everything went according to plan and twelve hours later I was in surgery.
From the moment I woke from surgery, l felt great and instantly positive that everything had gone well. This was due to the simple fact that I was warm. As a renal failure patient on hemodialysis I had struggled to make red blood cells, resulting in no appetite and always feeling tired and cold. During the previous four years my heating at home was barely ever off and I would wear a puffa jacket in the summer and two in winter. To wake up warm was my first reassuring sign that all had gone well. My appetite was back too. Then I noticed there was a glass of fresh orange juice left at the side of the bed for me. Just the fact that it was there gave me even more reassurance. As a dialysis patient, you're advised not to eat fresh fruit or drink fruit juice. It’s dangerously high in potassium, which renal failure patients have difficulty regulating, putting them at increased risk of heart attack. I don't even like orange juice that much, I prefer tea, but that morning, orange juice never tasted so good. Plus my 750ml daily fluid restriction was over and I could drink as much as I liked. So I had a full glass of orange and two cups of tea. Magic!
Of all the reassuring changes I was becoming aware of, the most surprising and unexpected change for me, was the change in my mind. I hadn’t even realised how dull my mind had become over the past four years until after my transplant. It was as though someone had just switched the lights back on. My mind was suddenly so much brighter and my thinking clearer. I was happy and enthusiastic about my future, something i hadn’t felt for along time. I was allowing myself to dream again and was full of ideas and excitement about what that could be, now that i'd been given a second chance.
It was also a very emotional time and amidst my happiness and excitement, when alone after the doctors where done and visiting from family and friends over, my excitement would be humbled by the sobering reality of my donor and how they came to be. Aware of the fact that my gain, was someone else's loss. While my family were relieved and overjoyed, somewhere another family was grieving the loss of their loved one. I still think of them every day. The fact that I am alive and well is a daily reminder of them and what they did for me. Mostly I think about how to thank them. Something I struggle with. I can't find the words, There are no words or thank you's that can express the gratitude I feel for the gift my donor made and the changes that it's made to my life.
During my time on dialysis and waiting on a donor I spent a long time reflecting over my life. Sad and sometimes angry about all I'd lost and what my condition had come to cost me and my family. After I received my second transplant I had a complete change of thinking. I can honestly say I have never been more grateful, more thankful, or more humbled in my life. No longer was I thinking about all that I'd lost, but how much I've been given.
I feel that I owe my life to organ donors. Their selfless acts of kindness and the understanding and consent of their families have saved me more than once. I think of them as heroes - unknown, unspoken heroes. Only spoken of and celebrated in anonymity amongst the friends and families of who's loved ones, they've helped. Those families, that at a time of such personal tragedy, are able to see past their own personal loss and save lives of strangers, they too, are my heroes.
So I decided there and then, that I needed to do something more. I felt a real need to give something back and find away to express my gratitude to everyone involved in changing my life. Not just for my current transplant but for all of them. Including my mothers and for over 30 years of giving my family hope and a chance to live.
So 'JUST DID IT' is my way of saying thank you. In recognition of all those heroes that put humanity before everything. I want to recognise them all and I want others to recognise them too. Big them UP. I for one, think they deserve it.
Founder ~ BigUP Organ Donation