Lancashire organ donor campaign leaves legacy of life

Mark Houghton, 52, has donated his kidney to a complete stranger
Mark Houghton, 52, has donated his kidney to a complete stranger
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ALMOST 30,000 Lancashire people have signed up to leave the legacy of life since the Lancashire Evening Post launched its campaign to recruit more organ donors.

In January last year, we launched our Lancashire: Giving The Gift Of Life campaign with the aim of spurring on an extra 2,016 people to sign up as donors during 2016.

But figures show more than 10 times that number have joined the NHS Organ Donor Register with 28,861 people joining from Lancashire alone. Organ donor chiefs have praised the Lancashire Evening Post for the campaign Ben Armstrong, specialist nurse in organ Donation at NHS Blood and Transplant says: “The Lancashire Evening Post’s campaign to promote organ donation will have inspired many people to join the NHS Organ Donor Register which is fantastic news.

“I’d like to say thank you to the Lancashire Evening Post for spearheading a drive for more donors from the area.”

And a dad who has donated one of his kidneys to a complete stranger has told his story to raise awareness of donation.

Mark Houghton, who has a partner Julie and two grown-up daughters and a granddaughter, explains: “It all began around last summer when I heard a radio show where they were talking about altruistic kidney donation.

“I knew you could donate organs after you died and I knew at the back of my mind that family members could give a kidney to another family member while still alive.

“But I did not realise you could give a kidney to a complete stranger who needs one.

“After hearing about it, I decided it was something I wanted to do.”

He added: “As soon as I made the decision, I didn’t look back.

“Just before you go under, you do hope you are going to wake up again. I have had no regrets – in fact, quite the opposite, I have felt almost euphoric.

“I am very happy with how the recovery is going.

“I am in very little pain. The only thing I am taking is one paracetamol. The wound will take about 12 weeks to heal.

“For me, it was a very easy thing to do.

“My kids are grown up and I am in good health and my life gave me flexibility to do this.

“Donating a kidney to a stranger may not be for everyone but I would like people to consider the fact it can be done.

“I am so happy I had the opportunity to do this. How often do you have the chance to change someone else’s life?

“Someone said to me, ‘You will have made a massive difference to someone’s Christmas’, and I hadn’t really thought of it like that.

“The person who received my kidney may have been on dialysis and to have this transplant may have changed their life.

“I have no idea who my kidney was given to but the medics will have put it into the person who I matched best.

“Hopefully, it has changed their life and that is all I need to know. That is all that matters to me and that is all I need to know. I did not do this to get any thanks but because it was the right thing to do.”

Mr Armstrong added: “We really appreciate all the support we have had from the paper and we hope this campaign will continue to prompt conversations about organ donation.

“If you have already joined the Organ Donor Register, we urge you to tell your family about your decision.

“Every day across the UK around, three people who could have benefited from a transplant die because there aren’t enough organ donors.

“We need more organ donors to save and transform lives.”

Sally Johnson, NHS Blood and Transplant director of organ donation and transplantation, said: “It is a terrible shame that so many people who want to save lives through organ donation have not taken the next simple step to register that decision.

“We all have busy lives yet most of us would admit that we still find ourselves whiling time away and delaying doing important things.

“Signing up to the NHS Organ Donor Register is one thing we know people often just haven’t got around to doing.”

• To join the Organ Donor Register, visit: https://www.organdonation.nhs.uk/register-to-donate/register-your-details