Hundreds of patients at risk in South Yorkshire as they wait for organ transplants

A general view of a person signing up for an NHS Donor card. Clive Gee/PA Wire
A general view of a person signing up for an NHS Donor card. Clive Gee/PA Wire

Eleven people have died in the last year and hundreds more are at risk across South Yorkshire due to an organ shortage.

New figures reveal that 226 people are on the list for an organ across the region and 11 patients have died while waiting for a transplant.

Chris Pickering, from Darton, Barnsley, received a kidney

Chris Pickering, from Darton, Barnsley, received a kidney

The worrying statistics have been released by the NHS to mark National Transplant Week, which starts today and runs until Sunday.

In 2013, the organ donor register was boosted by more than 23,800 new names thanks to The Star’s Gift of Life campaign, which aimed to raise vital awareness about transplants.

Awareness was boosted again last month following the tragic death of IndyCar racer Justin Wilson. The South Yorkshire man, from Woodall, near Rotherham, helped to save the lives of six people by donating his organs.

However, last year the number of people donating organs in the UK fell for the first time in 11 years. The UK also has one of the lowest rates in Europe for families consenting to organ donation.

Angela Eddy a therapy radiographer who teaches at Sheffield Hallam University, underwent a liver transplant in 2012

Angela Eddy a therapy radiographer who teaches at Sheffield Hallam University, underwent a liver transplant in 2012

This year’s campaign aims to help break down barriers and taboos around organ donation and encourage people to talk about it.

Helen Brown, a specialist nurse in organ donation at Sheffield Teaching Hospitals, said: “Every day, three people die in need of a transplant. Yet across the UK one in three adults haven’t considered organ donation or decided whether they want to be an organ donor.

“To save more lives we need more donors. To raise that number we really need everyone to understand the importance of not being complacent. We need to get to the point where organ donation is high on the list of important personal conversations we routinely have with loved ones.”

“Telling your loved ones you want to be an organ donor means your family will be in no doubt about your decision meaning your wishes will be fulfilled should you die in circumstances where organ donation is possible.

Anoop Soni, of Fulwood, Sheffield has received a kidney transplant

Anoop Soni, of Fulwood, Sheffield has received a kidney transplant

“Over the next seven days we’d like everyone to give a few minutes of their time to think about organ donation and talk about whether they want to be an organ donor with their relatives or a close friend.”

In South Yorkshire, 146 transplants were carried out in 2014/15 and 40 so far in 2015/16. As of last month, there were 385,213 people in the county on the UK organ donor register.

Nationally, about 1,000 people die every year in UK waiting for an organ transplant.


Chris Pickering

A young man who received a kidney from his mum says her selfless act of generosity has given him a new lease of life.

Chris Pickering, aged 25, of Darton, Barnsley, was diagnosed with end stage renal failure in 2013 and was told his kidney function was only five per cent.

The diagnosis meant that he had to start dialysis straight away, for eight hours a day, everyday.

Although it was keeping him alive, the gruelling treatment left Chris with little energy or motivation.

His situation prompted members of his family to come forward as possible living donors, an option which was explained to him by doctors at the Northern General Hospital soon after he was diagnosed. Although the process of tests and approvals takes months, Chris and his family realised that this was the best long-term option.

His mum, Kathryn, was found to be a match and the transplant went ahead last year.

He said: “I instantly felt the difference that the transplanted kidney made. I felt much more awake and alert.

“Both me and mum made excellent progress with recovery. I was back to work just six weeks post-op. Mum feels no different now that she has just the one kidney, yet the other has made such a massive difference to my life.

“The long term benefits are the most important. Transplant recipients get back the life that they once had. In my case I feel better than I can ever remember being. I have the energy to do things that just weren’t possible without the kidney donation.

“My mum’s donation was such an amazing, selfless act of generosity that I could never repay. It has given me a whole new lease of life. A kidney transplant is a gift of life.”

In August, he completed a 100 mile charity bike ride in London and Surrey, a feat which would have been unthinkable prior to the transplant.

Anoop Soni

A dentist whose kidney function was reduced to just eight per cent due to an inherited disease felt like one of the ‘luckiest people in the world’ when he received a transplant.

Keen sportsman Anoop Soni, aged 57, of Fulwood, Sheffield, was diagnosed with polycystic kidney disease in 2003 shortly after he had completed the Sheffield Half Marathon.

The condition causes cysts to develop in the kidneys, gradually reducing kidney function and leading to kidney failure.

Anoop had 50 per cent function when he was diagnosed, but this had reduced to about eight per cent by the time he had the transplant surgery in 2011.

He said: “I feel like one of the luckiest people in the world.

“I had asked if I could delay my dialysis so I could go to the tennis at Wimbledon and then celebrate my birthday. While I was away I got the call saying, ‘We have a kidney for you.’

“I went into hospital at 4am, had surgery that afternoon, and was discharged the day before my birthday. There was anxiety and excitement, but I was at the point where I thought it could not be any worse than the situation I was already in. I put my complete faith in the doctors.”

Anoop said he would urge more people from ethnic minorities to join the organ donor register.

At present, there are only about 3.5 per cent of people from ethnic minorities on the donor register. The best tissue match for a transplant is likely to be with someone from a similar ethnic background.

Anoop said: “I have always been on the donor register myself, having signed up when I was a student, not knowing that one day I would be a recipient myself.

“If we could get more ethnic minority donors coming forward that would be fantastic, because it is truly a gift.”

Angela Eddy

A mum is urging people to sign up to the organ donor register after a transplant enabled her to see her children grow up.

Angela Eddy, aged 53, a therapy radiographer who teaches at Sheffield Hallam University, underwent a liver transplant in 2012 after she was diagnosed with autoimmune disease Primary Biliary Cholangitis in 2010.

Her liver was so damaged that a transplant was the only option.

The mother-of-two said: “Now I am back at work, I can exercise and I have been able to see my children grow up. I would not have been able to do that if it had not been for the transplant. I feel very lucky to have had that chance.”

Angela was referred to the Royal Hallamshire Hospital in 2010 and was managed with medication, but the condition worsened to the extent that she was put on the waiting list for a transplant in 2012 before undergoing the operation in Leeds.

She said: “It is quite a shock to be told that you need a transplant. With PBC the symptoms can be quite vague at first and some people need a transplant in the end and others don’t.

“When they go through the risks it is quite scary, but when you are very poorly you feel so terrible that you want the transplant.”

Angela will need to take medication for the rest of her life to prevent her body from rejecting the new liver.

She said she would always be grateful to the donor who enabled her to have the transplant. The donor’s identity is kept anonymous and the process is handled through a coordinator, but Angela knows he was a young man.

She said: “It is a horrible thought in a way, because for you to have the transplant means someone else has died. But at least you know that being a donor is what they wanted to do.

“I wrote to the family to thank them after the operation, and I have written to them three times in total.”