A Chirk woman awaiting a triple organ transplant has welcomed new legislation which aims to dramatically increase the number of potential life-saving donors.
Sally-Ann Hart, known as Sal, met her Assembly Member Ken Skates as part of a campaign to highlight the new Welsh law, which came into force on December 1st and will mean consent for organ donation is assumed unless people explicitly stated otherwise.
Mr Skates, AM for Clwyd South, said: “Sal is suffering from multiple organ failure linked to diabetes and needs a liver, pancreas, small bowel and possibly a kidney too. She has been told her chances are minimal, but I hope that by the Welsh Government introducing this new legislation and by raising awareness that we might also be able to her and many others in similar situations.”
Sal’s problems started when she began to fall asleep at her desk when she worked as the headteacher’s PA at Bishop Heber High School in Malpas.
Her treatment included the removal of 80% of her stomach and the fitting of a gastric sleeve. She has lost around 11 stone in little more than a year, which resulted in complications, operations, comas and technically ‘dying’ four times.
Sal is not letting her illness beat her, however. She has compiled a ‘bucket list’ and says she plans ‘to go out as a rocket and not a sparkler’.
Charity fundraiser Sal, who turned 60 last January, aimed to raise £3,000 for the Multi-Organ Transplant Support (MOTS) with a sponsored walk around the Great Orme in Llandudno five days before her silver wedding anniversary in April. Altogether, she has now raised nearly £4,500.
Sal said: “To survive, I would need a triple, possibly quadruple, organ transplant. I’ve been told that I’m brave, but having been close to dying it is obvious that I still have something else to achieve in life. If it means helping others, then that is what I will do.
“I know I could die with or without a transplant, so I live each day as it comes. When I feel well I go out and enjoy life as much as I can, and when I have a bad day then I chill out at home and have ‘duvet days’. I get tired very easily, but I am now under the support of Nightingale House Hospice for complementary therapies and physiotherapy to try and improve my mobility and quality of life.
“Life is for living. I am just an ordinary woman who is having to get on with what I’ve been dealt. I have so much to be thankful for, and if people think I’m an inspiration then so be it!”
Sal added: “Obviously I wanted to raise as much money as I could, but also raise awareness of the importance of the new organ donation legislation. It may be too late for me, but I want my experiences to be as positive as they can be and if it encourages people to sign up on the donor register then I will have achieved something positive.”
Notes for editors
• Organ donations transplant healthy organs and tissues from one person into another, giving more than 3,000 people in the UK a new lease of life every year.
• Around 7,000 people in the UK are currently waiting for an organ transplant.
• In 2012-13, a total of 36 people died in Wales while waiting for an organ transplant as a donor could not be found.
• One donor can save or transform up to nine lives.
• Only 32% of people in Wales have signed the Organ Donor Register.
• A new law will come into force on December 1st which will make Wales the first UK country to introduce a ‘soft opt-out’ system. Under the new legislation, you will be able to become a donor by opting in or by doing nothing. By doing nothing, it will be assumed you have chosen to donate. If you don’t want to be a donor, you can opt out.
• You can now register your decision not to be a donor (opt-out) online or by calling 0300 123 23 23.
• For more information visit organdonationwales.org
• For more information on MOTS, visit http://mots2012.org.uk/
Picture courtesy of the Wrexham Leader.