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Talk about organ donation with your family, says mother saved by transplant

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A WOMAN who had a lifesaving liver transplant is preparing to mark the first anniversary of her operation – by competing in a triathlon and raising awareness about organ donation.

Dave Double, wife Louise Double and daughter Amelia

Louise Double (32) suffered complete liver failure just minutes after giving birth to her daughter Amelia on 13 June last year. She was airlifted to King’s College Hospital in London and within days had undergone an emergency transplant.

Next weekend, on 2 June, she is due to take part in the Try-a-Tri organised by the Jersey Triathlon Club in aid of Macmillan Cancer Support Jersey.

And, as the Island prepares to introduce a new law which presumes consent for organ donation unless people opt out, she has called on Islanders to discuss their organ donation wishes with their families, who ultimately have the final decision on donation.

‘The main message I would like to send is that if you would be willing for one of your family members to receive a donation, then you should be willing to consider giving one,’ she said.

‘Everyone thinks they are invincible and these things won’t happen to them, but it happened to me and I was the least likely out of all my mates – I am one of the most active, the fittest and I am the one that ended up getting struck down. I am lucky I am a common blood type and was top of the transplant list.

‘Any family member can end up in that situation and if you’d be willing to have your life saved, it is really important to consider it. It doesn’t take long to go on the organ donor website and look into it.’

This week the Health Department launched an awareness campaign designed to encourage people to have a conversation with their families about organ donation.

From 1 July there will be an assumption in law that adults consent to donating their organs after death unless they say otherwise. The UK is to follow suit with a similar law next year.

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Those wanting to ‘opt out’ can record their decision by contacting the National Organ Donation Register. The register can also still be used to express wishes to be a donor, as it will be consulted by medical staff in the event that someone dies in circumstances where organ donation is a possibility.

‘I have been on the register since I was 17 and passed my driving test. I told my mum and dad I wanted to be an organ donor and that they shouldn’t overturn my decision,’ said Mrs Double.

‘It must be really hard for families in those circumstances, but at the same time the way I see it is my organs are not going anywhere – it is a bit like money, you can’t take it with you.’

There are currently 21,030 Islanders registered on the Organ Donation Register, which can also be used to specify which organs people want to donate if they do not want to opt out entirely.

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The Health Department plans to monitor that figure as awareness increases about the new law.

Health Minister Richard Renouf said he was excited about the new law being introduced and it was now important to raise awareness within the community.

He stressed that the final decision would always remain with families, who would never be put under any pressure to agree to donation.

‘This has the potential to save and transform lives,’ he said. ‘We are still encouraging people to sign up to the register, because then there is an express record of what they would like. The important thing now is everybody in the Island should start having the conversation with their family about their wishes should the circumstances arise.’

Lucy Stephenson

By Lucy Stephenson
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