Help to save a life

Alice Skinner
Alice Skinner

A STAGGERING 120 people in Hartlepool and East Durham have had their lives saved or drastically improved in the last five years thanks to organ donations.

And today, the mum of one young girl who received a new kidney urged even more people to sign the transplant list, saying: “You don’t realise just what an amazing difference you can make.”

Some 120 people in our area have had their lives saved or improved in the area since 2008.

Among them is Alice Skinner, now a healthy 12-year-old but she had to be fed through a tube in her stomach for many years when she was born without kidneys.

She was Britain’s youngest patient to go on dialysis at the age of six months and was a regular face at Newcastle’s Royal Victoria Infirmary (RVI) as she awaited a life-saving kidney transplant.

That magic day came in April 2008 and, although she still needs regular check-ups, she is “living a regular life” said delighted mum Nicola Andrews, 42.

“To see her now, it is such a difference,” said Nicola. “She is enjoying her life and that is down to the organ donation.”

Nicola, of Templeton Close, Hartlepool, had her own message for anyone wondering whether to sign the organ register.

“If you could see the difference it makes to people. If you could see how amazing a difference it makes. It speaks volumes.”

Alice is about to undergo her 30th operation since her birth, but this time it’s a sign of her ever-improving health.

Nicola explained: “She had some plates put in her knees which she needed from the effects of being on dialysis for such a long time.”

Alice, who also has a dad, George 43, and sister Lucy, 23, was suffering from the kidney disorder renal osteodystrophy but Nicola added: “The plates can come out now.

“She gets the operation in three weeks.

As well as Alice, 44 other Hartlepool and east Durham people have received new kidneys in the last five years.

Three have been given replacement hearts, six have received lungs and 12 have had liver donations since 2008/2009. Another 53 have had organs such as corneas.

But latest statistics provided to the Hartlepool Mail by the NHS Blood and Transplant service shows four people in Hartlepool and East Durham died in 2010-2011 while they were waiting for organs, three from kidney problems and one waiting for a new liver.

One person died while waiting for a new liver in the last year.

The need for more people to join the transplant list is ongoing – and so is the need for Hartlepool people to discuss their wishes with members of their families.

A spokesperson for NHS Blood and Transplant said: “There are 10,000 people in the UK currently waiting for an organ transplant and three people die every day before they receive one.

“Not only do we need more people to sign the NHS Organ Donor Register (ODR), creating a record of their donation wishes, but we need people to let their families and the people close to them know what they want to happen should they die in circumstances where they could become a donor.

“This is a crucial element as families are always approached to give their support to donation and at the moment nearly half of them say no when asked.

“We know that when next-of-kin are aware their relative wanted to become a donor, they are twice as likely to support donation.”