Mark Dobson: 'I'm sticking to my diet so mum can give me kidney in February'
In his exclusive weekly column, dialysis patient Mark Dobson, who is the son of former MLA Jo-Anne, tells how patients and staff got cracking to ensure they spent Christmas Day at home
We have a winner! Well, that's Christmas all wrapped up for another year!
To allow us all to enjoy the 'Big Day' we had some changes to our dialysis sessions at Daisy Hill. Instead of our usual Monday dialysis, we were all in on Sunday to have our regular session, which allowed both patients and staff to have Christmas with their families. All our nurses were working away on Christmas Eve to hook us up and look after us, which really meant the world to us patients.
So, on Christmas Eve, while I was hooked up to my dialysis machine, I drew the winning ticket in my Christmas appeal raffle to win a signed Northern Ireland football shirt.
The lucky winner was Judith Glennon, herself a kidney recipient, who I contacted on Christmas Eve to let her know she was the winner.
While my JustGiving page remains open for a few more days to help me reach my target for the units, I really want to say a heartfelt thanks to everyone who has donated to help and support patients at the renal units at Belfast City and Daisy Hill Hospitals.
The truly amazing support from all my appeal 'donors' will make a real difference to my fellow patients and will help me to give back to the super health professionals who have been looking after me so well this year!
I hope you all had a wonderful time on Christmas Day, that Santa brought you everything you wanted as well as a few surprises, and that you are well and truly recovered from all those excesses!
We had a lovely family time over Christmas and, with my renal diet being taken into consideration by the staff, had a wonderful Christmas Day lunch at the Galgorm Resort & Spa! Mum always loves Christmas, as my elder brother Elliott, who lives and works in London, makes the journey home to enjoy the festive season together - it's lovely to have everyone back under one roof!
Even though we are still in December, the January sales season has well and truly begun! As we are now hurtling ferociously towards 2018 our thoughts will turn to making some New Year's resolutions and I will be joining in with this time-honoured tradition!
I will be making it my New Year's resolution to stick firmly to my renal diet and keep myself fit and healthy so that I am ready and able to undergo my transplant which, barring any complications, will take place in February. All being well, mum is donating a kidney to me, which will mean so much, as I will be able to put my dialysis behind me and once again live a fit and healthy life.
It does make me sad, however, to think of many of my fellow patients who are still waiting, many years on, for an elusive new kidney or who, because of their condition, are not able to receive a transplant at all. I know that in life I have been so lucky, firstly to receive a transplant in 2009 and now to have the possibility of a new kidney from my mum.
Live donations from a family member, or from a stranger, are becoming increasingly common among transplants. It's no accident then that on two recent occasions the super renal unit at Belfast City Hospital has carried out five kidney transplants in the space of 24 hours, twice equalling the UK record.
I hope that, whatever you have planned, you have a lovely Christmas week and would again ask that when you have family and friends gathered around you give a thought to organ donation and having that all-important chat about your wishes.
Everyone has it within them to become a life-saver!