The mother of a nine-year-old James Hodgson thinks of the organ donor who saved her son’s life every day.
James, who lives in Wakefield, was born jaundiced with a liver that was barely functioning due to a genetic disorder called alpha 1 antitrypsin deficiency, and at the age of two he was placed on the waiting list for a transplant in 2008.
Within just eight days mum Rachel Hodgson got a phone call after a match was found. She later found out the liver came from a 19-year-old man who had died in a tragic car accident.
Rachel is backing the call for people to sign the NHS Organ Donor Register through the YEP-backed Be a Hero campaign, run by Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust, to give the likes of James a chance at life.
The 45-year-old mum-of-two told James of the background to his transplant for the first time last week, and he has since pledged to write a letter of thanks to the donor family.
“He thought livers were made in factories. We needed to have that chat and I told him I had written to the donors and he said he would write the next one,” Rachel said.
“It seems really pathetic saying thankyou, there’s not a day I don’t think about the family and particularly his mum even though I don’t know him.”
Average waiting times in Yorkshire for liver transplants are 25 per cent longer than the national average, at around 222 days.
At nine weeks old James was seriously ill, which led to the diagnosis of his liver condition. His health gradually worsened and his disorder caused his liver to harden and the veins in his throat to swell, causing internal bleeding.
He had a number of blood transfusions and veins clamped and it became clear he was in desperate need of a transplant.
Rachel said: “We were just in limbo, I didn’t want him to be waiting that long that he would be poorly. All the time I was thinking about the fear that we might lose him, we could easily have done.”
Since the transplant he has gone from strength to strength and will compete in the annual British Transplant Games for the third time this summer. He won gold in the 50metre sprint last year.
The family is now backing Be A Hero after the YEP revealed on Friday that just 29 Leeds residents donated their organs after death last year, while around 800 desperately ill people in Yorkshire are on the waiting list for a transplant.
“It saved James’ life basically. I wasn’t originally on the register, I thought people would assume my wishes but it’s actually more complicated than that. James has asked to sign up too,” Rachel added.
We’re urging residents to sign the NHS Organ Donor Register and become a hero.
To raise the profile of Be A Hero we’re also urging workplaces and communities to support the campaign through anything from putting up a Be A Hero poster to hosting a superhero day. You can even download a #BeAHero mask from leedsth.nhs.uk/be-a-hero and tweet your superhero selfies to @Leedsnews and @LTHTrust using the hashtag #BeAHero.
Supporters can also send #BeAHero messages of support to facebook.com/yep.newspaper or send their tales of organ donation via email to firstname.lastname@example.org.