Transplant teen’s challenge

James Kirby
James Kirby

The father of an Eastbourne teenager who has undergone two kidney transplants in the last 12 years has spoken about the phone call that changed the family’s lives.

As 19-year-old James Kirby prepares to represent England in the World Transplant Games his dad Rupert told the Herald of the moment a donor was found for his son and in the run up to National Transplant Week (July 8 - July 14) is urging people to join the National Organ Donor Register.

His son first had a kidney transplant thanks to his mum Lisa when he was just seven-years-old but his body began to reject it around three years ago.

His father said, “He went on the organ donation register and he was very lucky, he was only on the list for a relatively short time compared to many people and then we got the call.

“The really important thing to us is how many people that are still on that list (National Organ Donor Register) and we want to raise the profile of it.

“I would say to anyone considering whether or not to go on the register, please consider if you would accept an organ to save your life or the life of a loved one. If you would the decision is simple.

“We often think about the donor of James’ kidney and are so grateful to him and his family. We know that by going on the organ donor register one can save the life of many like James. We unfortunately know of people, including a number of children, who have had to wait too long for a transplant and died waiting.”

James is currently gearing up to head to South Africa on July 25 to take part in the World Transplant Games, something he would not have been able to do without being given a new kidney.

The teenager, who attended his last training session in Warwick at the weekend, is taking part in tennis, badminton and squash.

Mr Kirby said his son was looking forward to taking part adding, “To get that phone call for James was life changing, he was becoming increasingly ill and unable to do the things normal teenagers do.

“It was impacting more and more on his life, so to get that call is something I’ll never forget.”

Sally Johnson, director of Organ Donation and Transplantation for NHS Blood and Transplant said, “This year so far 10 people living in East Sussex have benefitted from life-saving transplants.

“To help more people we need everyone, including the 295,747 people on the NHS Organ Donor Register in Eastbourne and East Sussex, to talk to their loved ones about their donation wishes. We need a transformation in donor and family consent to organ donation because the UK’s family refusal rate remains one of the highest in Europe.

“For this year’s National Transplant Week, we hope the people of Eastbourne and Sussex will Pass It On, we want everyone to be proud of our donation record in the UK.”

There are 104 people in East Sussex waiting for a transplant and 28 East Sussex residents have died waiting for an organ in the last five years.