Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 30 August 2014

The gift of an organ is truly the gift of life

Two astonishing stories in this newspaper today reflect different virtues of the human spirit. One is of unflinching courage in the face of adversity, the other of an amazing act of generosity.

The people involved are uplifting and inspirational and their stories demand that everyone who reads them is moved to action themselves.

Readers will remember the weekly diaries of Libby Nash, the 28-year-old Randalstown woman, which appeared in this newspaper and chronicled her daily battle for life in the face of cystic fibrosis which meant that she needed a double lung transplant to survive. She nearly died but eventually got the transplant and is now literally enjoying a new lease of life with her long-delayed honeymoon one of her immediate targets.

The other story is the remarkable action of well-known GAA pundit and legal figure, Joe Brolly, who has donated a kidney to a man he has known for just a short time. It is a gift of life and there can be no greater one.

Surgeons can perform medical miracles through transplantation, helping people to lead long and fulfilled lives which would have been drastically shortened had nature taken its course. But medicine and its practitioners are powerless without human beings willing to be organ donors, either live donors like Mr Brolly, or consenting to their organs being used after their own deaths.

Libby is alive today because someone else died, but that someone and their grieving family allowed the gift of life to be passed along.

There are around 300 people in Northern Ireland desperately waiting to hear the same news as Libby, that a suitable organ is available for transplantation.

More than 530,000 people in the province have signed up to the Organ Donor Register, but more are always needed. Signing up is easy and, while none of us like to think of our own mortality, that simple action could be a life saver for someone else.

What a wonderful legacy to leave. And if Mr Brolly can save a life through donating an organ while alive, there is no reason for the rest of us to deny such a gift after our death.

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