'Save someone's life - become a donor'

A WOMAN whose life was saved when she was donated a kidney by a kind-hearted EADT reader has urged people to make it their New Year's resolution to sign up to the Organ Donor Register.

Simon Tomlinson

A WOMAN whose life was saved when she was donated a kidney by a kind-hearted EADT reader has urged people to make it their New Year's resolution to sign up to the Organ Donor Register.

Former Suffolk schoolgirl Wendy Adams made the vital appeal as new figures reveal there has been an increase in the number of people waiting for transplants.

This time last year, there were 186 patients in Suffolk and north Essex in need of a transplant on the NHS Blood and Transplant Service (NHSBT) list.

That number has now risen to 194, the vast majority of whom - 175 - are in need of a kidney.

Of the others, seven are waiting for a heart, nine for a liver, two for a lung or lungs, and one for a pancreas.

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Currently, only about a quarter of the population in Suffolk and Essex have signed up to the register.

While most transplants occur after the donor has passed away, around 10% of the 1,500 kidney transplants nationally in the UK come from live donors - as was the case with Miss Adams.

The 44-year-old, who received a kidney from Suffolk man Tim Rowles just over a year ago after he read her appeal in the EADT, said living donors should not be put off because of fears about life after the operation.

Miss Adams, who lives in Holland, said: “Donors I have met and spoken to have had positive experiences.

“It is easier for a donor to give a kidney than to receive one. They can continue to have a normal lifestyle.

“I think everyone should sign up to the register as part of their New Year's resolutions.”

She also urged kidney patients to be more proactive in their search for a donor.

“I have a friend who has been on dialysis for five years and has a rare blood type like me,” she said. “She is 40 with an 11-year-old child.

“Instead of reaching out to people and seeking out a kidney, she was waiting, as most people do, for her turn.

“When she saw what Tim had done for me, she started asking everybody. A friend of hers gave her a kidney in July.

“I was supremely lucky, but most people do not have the motivation that I did. She would not have made it if she didn't do something on her own.”

The NHSBT says three people die every day while waiting for an organ tranplant.

There are currently 10,000 people in the UK in need of a transplant and while the number of sign-ups to the Organ Donor Register has increased dramatically, more potential donors are being encouraged to follow suit. There are 17million on the database at present.

Sally Johnson, director of organ donation and transplantation at NHSBT, said: “Rather than making what can often be an unachievable and unfulfilling resolution, this year we're calling on everyone to do something that could make all the difference in the world and save someone's life.

“We need many more people to join the NHS Organ Donor Register and discuss their decision with the people closest to them.”

To join the Organ Donor Register, visit www.organdonation.nhs.uk, call 0300 123 23 23 or text SAVE to 84118.

WHILE Wendy Adams will forever be grateful for her new kidney, she has found it a challenge to adapt to her new lifestyle.

Miss Adams, a former pupil at Ipswich High School for Girls, went public in the EADT in a desperate attempt to find a donor - made all the more difficult due to her rare blood type.

But 47-year-old Tim Rowles, from Leiston - whom Miss Adams had never met before - responded to the appeal and was found to be match.

He flew to Miss Adams' home in Haarlem and the pair underwent operations just before Christmas in 2008.

Miss Adams, who had previously been hooked up to a dialysis machine for nine hours a day, saw a remarkable improvement in her health.

Very soon, the clothing designer was back at work. In March, she told how her health was “super-improved” and had managed to go out on a 20-mile bike ride.

At the time, Mr Rowles, who is married with a teenage daughter, said he felt “euphoric” and would do it again if he could. The pair still keep in contact to this day.

However, Miss Adams, who lives with her partner, Gary Leatherland, said her new lifestyle was taking its toll psychologically.

She said: “I am doing well physically, no question, but there is still a lot I can't do.

“I have suffered some depression. It is hard to determine whether it is the (anti-rejection) drugs or not.

“Pill alarms go off six or seven times a day. And I will always have to take drugs twice a day without fail. I constantly worry about missing one and causing my kidney to be rejected.”

“It has been a stressful year - but there just wasn't an alternative. I'll always be thankful to Tim for what he has done for me.”