Our Jack is kept alive by 11 hours on a machine
Join our campaign: How you can give the gift of life by signing up to the NHS Organ Donor Register
Jack Watson (4) is one of 300 people in Northern Ireland currently waiting for a life-saving organ transplant.
With only 26% of the population here signed up to the NHS Organ Donor Register, the Belfast Telegraph has teamed up with the Westfield Health British Transplant Games to increase the number of people signing up to save lives.
Born with end stage renal failure, Jack from Belfast has received dialysis most of his life just to stay alive.
But this is not a long-term solution and doctors have told him he needs a new kidney — making him one of eight children in the province facing the anxious wait for a suitable match.
His mum Joanne explained: “His dad is having tests to see if he is a suitable match, so we’re waiting for the results and keeping our fingers crossed.
“It is very difficult to have a normal life. You can’t go out for a walk in the evening or go to the cinema with Jack or anything like that.
“We knew there was a problem with his bladder but we didn’t know the full extent until he was actually born.
“He has been having dialysis since he was four days old.
“He is at home now and he has his dialysis at night, which is something we do ourselves.
“I link him up to the machine and that gets rid of all the toxins in his kidneys. The process lasts about 11 hours and it is basically keeping him alive.”
Despite the tough regime of treatment, Ms Watson said the resilient youngster refuses to let it stop him enjoying life.
“He’s a typical four-year-old who is always trying to get himself into trouble. It doesn’t stop him during the day and he just carries on as normal.”
But as his mother, she is constantly aware of the pressing need to find a donor.
“He’s been on the transplant list since last July,” she said.
“Every day you are waiting for the phone call. It is quite tiring at times as there is no normality. You can’t take anything for granted. You just don’t know when he’ll get a donor organ, but it will hopefully be soon.
“I would urge anyone not on the register to sign up because you are helping someone else to lead a normal life. You are helping them and their families. If Jack had the operation it would give him a much better quality of life.
“It actually goes further than that.
“This really is a matter of life and death.”
How to sign up
The Belfast Telegraph is calling on its readers to sign up and save lives — with only 26% of the population on the Organ Donor Register, the province is lagging behind many other regions in the UK when it comes to committing to giving one of the greatest gifts possible. To join the NHS Organ Donor Register and help save lives in Northern Ireland, text SAVE to 84118, telephone 0300 123 2323 or log onto www.organdonation.nhs.uk.