Husband's donor card plea

A HUSBAND has made a heartfelt plea to encourage more people to carry life-saving donor cards after his wife died while on the transplant waiting list.

A HUSBAND has made a heartfelt plea to encourage more people to carry life-saving donor cards after his wife died while on the transplant waiting list.

Sharon Wild lost her 42-year-long battle with rare Eisenmenger's Syndrome last Sunday, after spending 18 months hoping for news a suitable heart and lungs had been found to help her.

Despite five late-night dashes to hospital from her home in Risby, near Bury St Edmunds, when potential replacements had been found, infections in the donated organs meant Sharon never received the gift she needed.

But she bravely fought to the end and never lost her charming smile, her husband Julian said as he paid tribute to his partner of 20 years.

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"Everyone said what a happy person Sharon was," he said.

"She battled her illness with dignity and cheerfulness, and kept a sunny disposition until the end. She was always smiling, which is how I will remember her."

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Sharon was born with a congenital heart defect, but lead a normal life until she reached her late 30s. She was forced to give up her job of 16-years as a personal assistant, and was prescribed a course of medication and given oxygen 24-hours a day.

Julian quit his role as a manufacturing manager to care for his wife full time.

But doctors could not operate to close the hole Sharon had been born with in her heart, and the high blood pressure resulting from her illness then began affecting her lungs, breaking the organs down gradually.

In January 2002, experts at Papworth Hospital, Cambridge, told Sharon only new organs would save her, and she was placed on the transplant list.

The couple waited patiently and were called to the hospital five times, only to have their hopes dashed when experts discovered the potential organs were not suitable for transplant.

"The calls could literally come at any time, and were always out of the blue in the middle of the night. It was like we were in a state of suspended animation," said Julian, who celebrated his 20th wedding anniversary with Sharon in April.

"We never knew if the operation was going to go ahead, as we didn't know if the potential organs were suitable until after we arrived at hospital. We were in a state of complete limbo.

"It was a very strange, emotional experience, like suddenly being placed on the set of a medical drama.

"Transplantation truly is a major operation, and I didn't quite know whether to worry more about the operation taking place or being called off.

"The next day what had happened would sink in, but Sharon always coped extremely well."

Sharon described the anxiety of waiting for new organs to the East Anglian Daily Times last year during the launch of our Sign For Life campaign, which encourages more people to register as donors.

Since then, 500 readers have started carrying donor cards, and Julian hopes Sharon's story will prompt more to take part and offer the gift of life.

"The statistics for heart and lung patients are not good, with only 40 or 50% surviving five years. It is a deferred death sentence, but it was Sharon's only chance at life," he added.

"Had the operation gone ahead and worked well, it would have been stupendous. We could have had some great times in those extra years.

"The importance of carrying a card just cannot be underestimated. If just one more person registers as a donor, it could save someone's life."

Following Sharon's death at the West Suffolk Hospital, Bury St Edmunds, Julian followed her wishes and asked if any of her organs could be transplanted.

Unfortunately, the affects of the medication she had been taking daily during her life meant donation was not possible.

But Julian has now asked anyone thinking of sending flowers in Sharon's memory to instead consider making a donation to the Papworth Transplant Unit, care of L. Fulcher, in Whiting Street, Bury.

He plans to play Inside of You, by Alice Martineau, who died while awaiting a heart, lung and liver transplant, at Sharon's funeral at St Edmunds Catholic Church on Tuesday at 11am.

Anyone interested in registering their organs for donation can do so online, at or by telephone, on 0845 6060400.

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