200 waiting for organ donation in NI

Published Wednesday, 13 February 2013
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As part of the From the Heart campaign, UTV has been looking at the issue of organ donation in Northern Ireland - where 200 people are waiting for a transplant - and hearing the stories of those whose lives have been saved and those still waiting.

200 waiting for organ donation in NI
15 people die each year on the waiting list. (© UTV)

The decision to give a loved one's organ is a devastating one for any family to make, but it may give someone else the gift of life.

Two people with very different stories spoke to UTV about their experiences.

William Johnston has been waiting on a kidney for 14 years. He has four hours of dialysis four times a week, after his health failed at the age of just 29.

"I am on very strict fluids, very strict fruit restriction as well and my overall freedom is just curtailed - I no longer have the freedom of any normal person," he said.

"I was very, very lucky in 1995 to get a kidney transplant - unfortunately, it rejected soon afterwards. It put a lot of rogue antibodies into the system, which has made it very difficult for me to be matched.

"My twin brother and my mother both put themselves forward for live donorship. Unfortunately, they weren't compatible either. But I live in hope."

However, Erica Ferguson's life was saved by a liver transplant. She was just days from death after a mystery virus gave her liver failure and knows how lucky she is.

For a stranger who I never knew and never will to give me the gift of life, show compassion at the worst time in someone's life ... It's amazing.

Erica Ferguson, donor recipient

"Everybody has blood numbers," she explained.

"When they did my blood numbers, your liver numbers are meant to be about 18 - mine were in the 4,000s, so technically I should have been dead.

"It was quite a scary time for myself and for my family.

"I had 48 hours to live and the first available liver in the whole of Europe had to be given to me, so I went on the international register for a life-saving transplant."

She added: "If it hadn't been for that liver, I would be dead.

"I have managed to see my daughter go to university - she was eight when I got ill - I might not have been here and I might not have seen her grow up."

For more info on the From the Heart campaign, or to sign the NHS Organ Donor Register, check out UTV's dedicated microsite here.

© UTV News
Comments Comments
john hardy in Essex wrote (712 days ago):
its my opinion ,that the govenment could offer payment to the donor. a terminally ill person waiting to die will possibly struggle financially and receive no help. and then be expected to donate there organs. you might think this is sour grapes. so be it . but in my expirence you only get what you pay for in life. im sorry for those waiting for transplants and the chance of life. but without help for the donor I dont what can be done
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