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Local man urges locals to get on the donor list

Daniel tells of his transplant hopes

Cystic Fibrosis sufferer Daniel Gray is waiting on a double lung transplant Cystic Fibrosis sufferer Daniel Gray is waiting on a double lung transplant
By Francesca Ryan

As National Transplant Awareness Week approaches (July 8-14), a young West Belfast man in need of a double lung transplant has urged more people to sign up to become donors.

Daniel Gray has been managing the complications of cystic fibrosis since birth, but in recent years his health has markedly declined.  The 24-year-old told the Andersonstown News of the impact the deterioration has had on his life and highlighted the need for more people to be aware that organ donation can save a life – a life like his.

“I used to socialise a lot, three or four nights a week, and play football with my brothers and go to college, now I can’t do any of that,” said the Springfield man.  “I got really sick about 18 months ago and haven’t really picked up, everything just changed.

“It’s been about 12 weeks since I was assessed and I’m now waiting on a double lung transplant.  I have to have both or I will deteriorate and die.”

Speaking about the crucial role of organ donation and transplants, the former Corpus Christi pupil commended GAA star Joe Brolly on his efforts to change the law so that organi donation becomes an opt-out instead of an opt-in choice.

“I’m all for it,” he said.  “You have to start somewhere and he is doing a great job. I would encourage people to get on the organ donor register.  I suppose if you’re willing to take an organ, you should be willing to give one because the difference you could make is incredible.  I’ve already lost a few friends to this disease so I really need the transplant.

“It would mean everything to me to get this transplant, basically it would be my life.”

Daniel’s mother Mary spoke emotionally about the illness that has changed her son’s life and the impact it has had on the family.

“Daniel is very popular and until 18 months ago he had a great social life, so this is heartbreaking. He had a normal life for a kid until then,” she said.

“He loved playing with his three brothers and taking the dogs out for a walk, but he can’t do that anymore.

“We have moved his room downstairs because he can’t do the stairs any more, we have to protect him from infections –the last time he had one, he lost a stone and a half in a fortnight, so that alienates him further.”

Mary spoke warmly of the courage and positivity shown by her Chelsea FC-loving son, adding that his outlook is an inspiration and she too urged people to sign up to become donors.

“The double lung transplant is all we can hope for now,” she said.  “I think awareness of organ donation and how crucial it is is key. We are talking about my son’s life here. This is so tough for us but my heart breaks for Daniel. However, he is still an inspiration to us all. He is so positive and never complains, he has never once said ‘I have Cystic Fibrosis so I can’t…’ Not once.  He tries so hard so we have to as well. We are positive and we will stay positive and hopeful.”

Dr Eddie Rooney, Chief Executive of the Public Health Agency and Chair of the Northern Ireland Committee for Organ Donation and Transplantation, echoed the appeal for people to sign up to the register.

“The number of people in Northern Ireland signing up to the NHS Organ Donor Register is steadily increasing,” he said.  “However, there are still not enough organs available for transplant. Almost 200 people are currently waiting for a transplant in Northern Ireland and sadly the chance will come too late for many.

“Together we can improve these figures, ensuring more donations can take place and more lives can be saved. The PHA is appealing for everyone who has not yet signed the NHS Organ Donor Register to do so today, it is one of the most generous things a human being can do to help others.

“It is important that you discuss organ and tissue donation with the people closest to you so that, if the time ever comes, they will find it easier to carry out your wishes.”

If you want to help Daniel and others like him, join the Organ Donor Register now by telephoning 0300 123 23 23, text SAVE to 62323 or log on to www.organdonation.

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