On Tuesday morning I got a phone call from my mother to tell me that my Grandfather had passed away in his sleep on Monday evening. My grandfather has always been an inspiration to me for his hard work, raising three children, making my father the fantastic man that he is now and for his resilience. For the last ten years he had to go for dialysis constantly and he was very sick for the past few years. His passing almost comes as a relief to us because his suffering is finally at an end.
His passing has made me think about my life and again the choices I am making. Two years ago after my mother's father passed I signed up to the NHS Organ Donor register and I'm so glad I did this. When someone you love passes away it is such a shock to the system. My grandfather made it to his 80th birthday and even though he was so sick I really believe that he lived a full and good life. And it hurts my heart that some people can't have this privilege.
On average three people a day die in the UK waiting for a transplant because there aren't enough organs available. One donor can save or transform the lives of up to nine people. For me this is the main reason for being an organ donor. My grandfather has lived a good long life and if being an organ donor means I can give this gift to someone else than that's just incredible to me. There are more people in the UK waiting for an organ than there are donors which is a mind blowing statistic. It takes just a few minutes to sign up and you're changing someone's life for ever.
The video below won the 2013 FilmLife entry to raise awareness about organ donation and having the conversation about donation with your family. My mother was surprised when I told her I was a donor, she said if she had to be put in the position of being asked what to do with my organs she wouldn't have been able to make that decision so she said she was glad I had made that call. If you are an organ donor make sure your family are aware, it's a really important conversation to have.
I'm trying to live a full life that I can be proud of and I hope I'm making my grandfathers proud. But I also hope that when the day comes, I can help someone else live a long and healthy life. Knowing that there are people out there who can't live the life they want because of a medical condition reinforces my organ donation decision.
If you live in the UK you can sign up to be an organ donor here, I'm a big support of the 'Opt-Out' system for organ donation which means that unless you explicitly state that you do not want to be a donor, everyone is automatically a donor. I'm happy to hear that this system has been given the go ahead in Wales and hopefully one day will be applicable for all of the UK.
Being an organ donor gives you the opportunity to change someone's life for the better and what greater gift is there than the gift of life?