A 24 year old whose life was saved by a kidney transplant today backed a campaign to help increase donor numbers in Scotland.
Callum Reid, from Grangemouth, shared his story as the ‘We Need Everybody’ call for people to join the NHS Organ Donor Register was issued. Statistics released to coincide with the campaign show that there are currently 4,345 people in Scotland who are living with a transplant, thanks to organ donors and their families (Source: NHS Blood and Transplant).
Currently, 45 per cent of the population in Scotland is on the NHS Organ Donor Register (Source: Scotland statistics as at 6 August 2017, NHS Blood and Transplant) – however with someone dying every day in the UK while waiting on an organ transplant (Source: Total number of deaths of those listed for transplant - 470 in 2015/16: NHS Blood and Transplant), the more people that join, the more lives can be saved.
The Scottish Government recently outlined its intention to introduce legislation for a soft opt out system of organ tissue and donation, with a view to adding to the package of measures already in place to increase donation rates. Public Minister for Health Aileen Campbell today highlighted the importance of the campaign in changing attitudes towards organ donation in Scotland, as she encouraged people to continue join the organ donor register and make their decision known.
Minister for Public Health, Aileen Campbell said: “Callum’s story shows the life-changing impact that a transplant can have on someone. We must always be mindful that most organ and tissue donation can only occur as a result of tragic circumstances and I’d like to thank every donor and their family who has made the selfless decision to donate their organs or tissue and enabled others to live and transform their lives.
“Every person that joins the NHS Organ Donor Register could potentially save a life and give hope to the 580 people waiting for a transplant in Scotland. If you support organ donation, I’d encourage you to join the Register today and tell your family of your decision.”
Callum was diagnosed with kidney failure in 2010, aged just 17. The sudden illness cut the promising football player’s career short, and he was hospitalised for over two months whilst being prepared for dialysis. After losing his mother to cancer shortly after he left hospital, Callum struggled with his diagnosis and found it hard to comply with treatment which he now admits made his condition worse and the wait for a transplant longer.
Callum’s transplant finally went ahead in October 2016 and he’s now looking to the future, admitting he spends every day being grateful to his donor and for having his life back. He is now using his experience to help others, visiting the NHS Forth Valley renal unit at Forth Valley Hospital in Larbert regularly to support young patients on dialysis.
Callum said: “Overnight, I went from being a healthy guy, playing football and training hard, to having a life ruled by kidney disease.
“After my mum died, I went through a hard time. I suppose I didn’t accept my diagnosis as much as other patients did as I had a lot on my mind. I didn’t want to live just for my treatment and didn’t go as regularly as I should have which did cause me problems.
“But I wised up and knew I had to get in the right frame of mind if I wanted a chance at a life free of dialysis. When I knew the transplant was going ahead, I remember being on dialysis just before surgery, thinking this could be the last time to be a patient on this side of the machine. When you grow up living with treatment, it’s hard to get your head round a life without it. But seeing things starting to work properly after the transplant was nothing short of amazing. Life now is like night and day compared to before.”
Speaking about the importance of joining the Register, Callum said: “I openly admit before I took unwell that I’d heard about organ donation but never realised its importance. Now, if I could give up everything I have to get someone a transplant, I’d do it. It’s great that Scotland is looking to move to an opt out system, but first and foremost people need to be on the Register and tell their family.
“I know how incredibly lucky I’ve been and I have so much to be thankful for, thanks to my donor.”