Organ donors are lifesavers. There is often a long waitlist to be able to donate an organ.
The list of people with life-threatening illnesses far outnumber willing organ donors, which is why highlighting the incredible impact of organ donations is important to show how donors can change people’s lives.
The transplantation of human tissues, cells, and organs has become a global success story in 50 years. World Health Organization.
Transplants can save lives and restore vital functions, especially when other options or treatments are not available.
Global Observatory on Donation and Transplantation in 2020 reported a total number of 129.681 organ transplants. This was led by kidney (80.926), liver (32.2586) and heart (8.101) transplant operations.
However, the numbers indicate a 17.6% decline in organ donors compared to 2019.
It is important to make it clear that organ donation saves lives and encourages more people to sign up for them.
This is exactly the goal Gareth Weeks from Fife (Scotland) set out to achieve when he posted photos to Twitter.
His photos of Zara, his 6-year old daughter, were identically posed. However, they showed the before-and-after effects of a liver donation.
Weeks happily declared in his post, “Organ donation saves lives!” Organ donors, whether living or postmortem, certainly give others a second chance at moving forward with a long and healthy life.
In the first photo, Weeks’ stomach is bloated, and his skin is practically yellow from jaundice, an after effect of an incurable chronic liver disease known as primary sclerosing cholangitis (PSC).
The second photo shows a remarkable difference – his stomach is no longer swollen, and Weeks’ skin looks healthy. On his abdomen, you can see a large scar that was left after surgery.
The first photo was taken just six weeks after Weeks’ life-changing donation. The next photo was taken just six weeks after Weeks had received his liver transplant.
Beaming and happy, with his skin restored to its normal tone, Weeks showed how organ donors give the ultimate gift to others – the gift of life. He added, “Talk about it and let your loved one know your wishes.”
Six years ago, Weeks was exhausted even though he got enough sleep. Weeks attributed his fatigue to the fact that he was having an infant at the moment. However, he began to feel stomach pains and crampings as well as back pain and jaundice.
His liver problems began when he was diagnosed with primary-sclerosing Cholangitis. He declared, “I didn’t know what it was..” PSC occurs when the bile ducts in the liver are blocked.
Bile builds up and damages liver. People with PSC could live only 10 to 12 more years if they don’t get treatment. Weeks understood immediately that he needed to be on an organ transplant waiting list.
He said, “Over the next few months I was trying to come to terms with having a chronic illness, but it was strange because physically, other than being tired, I felt fine.”
Weeks fell very ill in 2021. His doctors had him listed for a transplant in September. He waited seven long and painful months for the call that would restore his health, and give him his life back.
Finally, he received good news on May 16, 2022 – he was a match for a liver that became available! Weeks shared, “Once the surgeon gave the go-ahead, the next thing I remember was waking up in ICU at 8:30 a.m. the next day with a breathing tube in my throat.”
Two weeks after his successful transplant, Gareth was released by the hospital. His liver function has returned to normal for the first time since 2006, He is grateful to the organ donation who gave him his second chance at life.
“But because of the generosity of my donor and their family, I am excited about my future again. I want to go back home on holiday to South Africa, finally use the bicycle I bought a few years ago and start golf again,” Gareth said,
Weeks is now more determined than ever before to live life to the fullest. Weeks hopes that his dramatic photos will inspire more people to become organ donors or “true heroes” for others.
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