Michelle Hemmings from Birmingham knows exactly what it’s like to wait for an organ transplant. Michelle, 47, waited over a year for a lung transplant, after her quality of life had begun to deteriorate quite dramatically.
Michelle had suffered with lung fibrosis for around 22 years and her condition had worsened to the extent that she was reliant on an oxygen tank for support and could hardly drive or walk upstairs without feeling awfully out of breath.
In February 2018 Michelle was part of a remarkable record-breaking moment of transplant surgery at the Royal Papworth hospital near Cambridge, becoming one of five patients to receive a transplant in just 36 hours!
Michelle says “For the hospital to complete five transplants in such a short space of time is amazingly exceptional! My surgery alone took 6 hours.”
Michelle adds: “I feel I would have received a transplant sooner if more people in my community were willing to discuss organ donation. There is a lack of awareness and people are a little naïve around the importance of talking about it. Life is not a guarantee, we’re not invincible, we will all get ill at some point and will all need someone to help us.
“You, the public can help improve the chances of black, Asian and minority community patients by signing up to the NHS Organ Donor Register and more importantly by having the conversation with your families and discussing with them your decision to donate your organs.”
Give for your community
For many black patients the best match for a transplant will come from someone with the same ethnic background. Around 600 people from the black community are currently waiting for a transplant.
This Black History Month, NHS Blood and Transplant are highlighting that the law around organ donation in England is changing in Spring 2020 and want your support to share this message within your community.
From Spring 2020, all adults in England will be considered to have agreed to be an organ donor when they die unless they had recorded a decision not to donate or are in one of the excluded groups.
Adults covered by the law change will still have a choice whether they want to be an organ donor and their families will still be involved before organ donation goes ahead.
Geraldine Parker, National BAME Marketing Manager for NHS Blood and Transplant, said: “Black History Month is a wonderful opportunity to start a conversation about organ donation, to help people like Michelle who are reliant on the generosity of donors to save and improve their lives.
“Please help save lives within your community by making and sharing your organ donation decision.”
To find out more and to record your choice visit www.organdonation.nhs.uk