Five-year-old donor gave me two kidneys

CHRIS GREEN has every reason to feel positive about the New Year.

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The 43-year-old was given a life-saving kidney transplant earlier this year after waiting more than eight years.

Doctors were facing a race against time to find a donor because Chris's body was becoming unsuitable for dialysis treatment.

However his happiness is bittersweet.

Doctors transplanted two kidneys from a five-year-old child, who had sadly died, a rare and risky procedure.

Chris says he can't put into words the gratitude he feels towards the family who agreed to donate their child's organs.

He has given his full backing to our Opt for Life campaign, which aims to persuade the Scottish Government to switch to an 'opt out' policy of organ donation.

Chris, from Foxbar, Paisley, said: "It was bittersweet and it still is.

"To think that someone who has lost a kid has still got the foresight and the compassion to think of other people at that time.

"Thank you sometimes seems such a small thing to say, and there is nothing that you can say to someone who makes that sacrifice.

"All you can really say is how grateful you are for being given a chance of a normal life.

"I've tried to write a letter to the family so many times but I think it's too soon."

Chris was diagnosed with a rare condition at the age of 10 called Henoch-Schonlein purpura, which cause the body's immune system to attack its own tissues.

By age 12 his kidneys had failed and he was going to hospital three times a week for dialysis.

He said: "The first day I was only on dialysis for two hours, I thought that was it.

"I thought I would only have to go once. They said I'll see you on Thursday.

"Three times a week, and back then you did eight hours on the machine.

"I missed so much school.

Chris was on dialysis for six years before he received his first transplant at the age of 18, from an adult donor.

He said: "My health had deteriorated drastically

"As soon as they gave it to me it worked right away, it was an adult kidney and it was a perfect match.

The best way of describing it is going to bed with the worst hangover you have ever had and waking up feeling the best you ever have."

He remained well for 20 years, returning to work at Glasgow Airport, keeping fit at the gym and enjoying life with his wife Gillian, 36, who works for mental health charity SAMH.

However eventually the donor kidney stopped working, because of his condition, and he was put back on dialysis.

It was eight years before he received the call this time and time was running out for him.

He had been on dialysis for so long that it was getting to the point where there was no access for the needles.

He said: "I've had lines in my chest, my back, I've got a graft in my left leg.

"They had to take the chance with a transplant.

"They phoned me at five in the morning and said, 'it's two you are getting'.

"It was two kidneys from a child. It's called an end block. Rather than just the kidney they give you the whole kidney block.

"It was rough because they don't work automatically.

"It could take two years before they reach their full potential.

"However, within two weeks I didn't need any more dialysis.

"It puts life into perspective. I have everything I need now."

Chris is fully behind the Evening Times' campaign to persuade the Scottish Government to switch to a soft 'opt out' system of organ donation.

It means that the default position would be that everyone is a potential donor, but people would still have the opportunity to opt out and families would still be consulted.

Around 55 MSPs have signed a motion in support of our campaign so far and Chris has collected hundreds of signatures for the petition.

Chris said: "I think it's got to come to that.

"People's lives are so full of other pressures. It's not that they don't have compassion but they just don't get round to it. It's only when it affects you that you make a decision.

"I think people should be forced to make a decision, to either agree or opt out.

"Everyone expects that treatment will be there if they need it."

We have to talk about organ donation

A NEW report has highlighted the need for families to discuss their wishes about organ donation.

Research published today in the British Journal of Anaesthesia revealed 10% of families still refuse to donate even if their loved ones have registered as donors.

At present, it is accepted practice to respect the family's wishes despite the existence of valid legal consent.

The British Medical Association believes moving to an 'opt out' system would increase the consent ratio.

Doctors say a change in the law would mean families were more likely to have to have at least discussed the issue.

The report also called for greater investment in specialist nurses, with experience in grief counselling, saying this could help drive up consent rates.

The study showed 75% consent rates for groups that had contact with a coordinator for more than 3 hours.

Since 2009, the UK has expanded its pool of coordinators from 100 to 250.

Dr A Vincent, author of the report, said: "Only 60% of families give consent for organ donation from a loved one.

"It is an improvement in consent rates, more than in any other area, that would see a real increase in donor numbers in the UK."

HOW TO HELP

WE need your help to make this happen and save more lives. Sign our petition to lend your support to an 'opt-out' system for organ donation at www.eveningtimes.co.uk

There is now also a printable version of the petition available on our website.

We need as many of you as possible to distribute it in community centres, churches, mosques, leisure centres and public places so we can achieve our target of 10,000 signatures.

You can also sign up on Twitter and Facebook via http://bit.ly/etoptin. And don't forget to send the link to all of your friends and relatives.

In the meantime, to join the existing national organ donor register, text 'ETDONATE' to 61611.

Texts are charged at the usual standard network rate (any texts sent in reply are free of charge to the recipient). You can also join the list by calling the NHS Donor Line on 0300 123 23 23. Lines are open 24 hours a day all year round. Calls are charged at your contracted rate for local calls.

Those who wish to register online can also do so by filling out a form on www.organdonationscotland.org/nhs_organ_donor_register.html

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