YOU could be a hero to someone like Natasha by signing up to our new Save a Life Campaign.
The campaign aims to boost the amount of people on the Organ Donor Register and increase the amount of LIVES first responders in Grantham.
Natasha Howlett, of Walton Gardens, Grantham, was 11-months-old when her parents, Suzanne and Wayne, realised there was something wrong. Seven months later she was diagnosed with Langerhans’ cell histiocytosis, which is similar to a cancer. This disease affected her liver and she needed a transplant.
Natasha’s mum Suzanne said: “It was hard, we used to cry a lot and near enough lived in hospital. She kept getting infection after infection and was given a year to live.
“You don’t realise until you’re in that situation that it’s life or death.”
Two weeks after Natasha was put on the transplant list her parents got the phone call saying there was an organ.
Suzanne said: “Every year I think of the person that died. When I got the phone call I was mortified that somebody had to die to save her, but that lady saved Natasha’s life and two other people. That’s from a body that you no longer need.”
Natasha was taken to a Leeds hospital where she was the 13th child to receive a potentially life-saving liver transplant.
Wayne said: “Not all of them survived. There was a young boy with the same condition as Natasha and he died while we were there. That was a bit unreal. Without the organ she wouldn’t have made it.”
The transplant had an immediate and dramatic change on Natasha.
Wayne said: “It was amazing. She was bright yellow before the transplant and wasn’t active at all. An hour after the operation she was sitting up in bed asking for baked beans.
“Three months later she was playing with all the other children at a Christmas party.”
Suzanne said: “I remember being excited. That was the turnaround and she’s been well ever since.”
Natasha, who is now 12, said: “I’m pleased that someone got a donor card so I could have the liver. I think everyone should sign up – to help people like me.”
Wayne added: “It’s a personal choice but just think about it. It might even save a few lives.”
Nineteen people in the area are currently awaiting a kidney transplant. In 2009/2010 three people died while waiting.
A spokesman for NHS Blood and Transplant said: “The Journal campaign will help bring organ donation to the forefront in the area and we hope more people will sign up to the Organ Donor Register as a result.
“Three people die every day while waiting for an organ transplant, so it is vital that people sign the register and make their wishes known to their family in the event of their death.”
Eight people awaiting organs in the area have been saved since April thanks to people registering for organ donation. Currently 28,718 people are on the register and we want to boost this figure to help save as many lives as possible.
To sign up, get a form from the Journal offices or fill in the coupon in next week’s paper.
If you do not want to wait to save a life you could sign up to LIVES, which is a charity made up of volunteers who give their time to save others.
These volunteer first responders are often first on the scene of an emergency ahead of the ambulance service, tasked with keeping the patient alive and stable until paramedics arrive. We have teamed up with LIVES to help boost the first responder teams in Grantham - and we need YOU to sign up and save a life.
Over the coming weeks, we will be telling first responders’ inspirational stories. To find out more about LIVES and how you be part of the charity’s incredible work, visit www.lives-responders.co.uk