Transplant man's thanks to donor

A TRANSPLANT patient from Suffolk is anxious to thank the family of a woman whose death made it possible for him to live a normal life.Adrian Finch, 47, who suffers from diabetes, had been living for the day when the hospital would telephone with the news that they had found a kidney and pancreas donor.

A TRANSPLANT patient from Suffolk is anxious to thank the family of a woman whose death made it possible for him to live a normal life.

Adrian Finch, 47, who suffers from diabetes, had been living for the day when the hospital would telephone with the news that they had found a kidney and pancreas donor.

The BTexact Technologies manager, who lives in Rushmere St Andrew, near Ipswich, with his wife Patricia and five-year-old son, had been diagnosed with diabetes aged six and was accustomed to a daily regime of insulin injections. The build up of sugar in his body had gradually affected his kidneys and he was facing a future shackled to dialysis machines.

In December 2001, Addenbrooke's Hospital found him a donor. Although Mr Finch did not know it initially, his pancreas and kidney had come from the same woman, Carolyn Abbott - who also helped a string of other recipients.


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Carolyn was three days away from her 33rd birthday when she collapsed and died at a Boxing Day gathering in West Suffolk.

Her parents, Val and Jim Abbott and husband Ian were devastated at the lost. Carolyn left a young son and daughter, now aged seven and four.

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There had been no warning signs foreshadowing the massive brain haemorrhage. Carolyn had simply slumped into her husband's arms whilst enjoying a few drinks at a neighbour's house. Doctors battled to save her at Bury St Edmunds and Addenbrooke's Hospital, where she was transferred, but she died two days later.

Her family knew she had always carried a donor card and wanted her wishes to be respected.

Carolyn's heart, lungs, kidneys and pancreas, all in perfect condition, helped save the lives of three other people.

Adrian Finch, although he had some nasty complications, including internal bleeding following the initial surgery followed two weeks later by rejection problems with the pancreas, did make a good recovery and his new kidney is working well.

Eight weeks after he left hospital, he was able to start work again, from home.

Mr Finch wrote to Carolyn's mother, Val, 56, of Wareham in Dorset, through a third party at the hospital, thanking her for her daughter's invaluable gift.

He said: "It is a very strange thing to go through. When you first receive the organ you don't want to know where it has come from. Then I desperately wanted to know. They don't tell you very much, apart from a person's age, sex and sometimes the circumstances of their death.

"I knew much more about Carolyn than people usually do of their donors because her parents agreed for her to be named. I do find it difficult to look at a photograph of her. From a purely selfish point of view my thoughts were that I was very pleased she was someone who was young and healthy. At the same time, you are very sorry that someone died.

"It is a very difficult thing to get your head around how you feel."

Carolyn's dad Jim, 58, said: "We have just passed the first anniversary of our daughter's death and it hurts. We agreed to allow her to be named to help persuade more people to sign the organ donor register. We are very pleased that the recipients are doing well."

Mr Finch urged EADT readers to sign the organ donor register. He said: "When you are on the transplant ward and you see so many people absolutely desperate for organs, it does reinforce how important it is for everyone to carry a donor card."

The EADT is currently running the Sign for Life campaign, urging people to register as organ donors.

For information and to register, contact (0845) 6060400.

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