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Mark Dobson: Tina Turner's inspirational story really is simply the best

In his weekly column, transplant recipient Mark Dobson, son of former MLA Jo-Anne, reminds people to get their winter flu jab

Transplant and kidney patients never ever have to ask the question, What's love got to do with it?' That's because we know too well that the decision to donate is always motivated and deeply rooted in love and a desire to help others to live as healthy and fulfilling a life as possible.

This week, the entire transplant community was enthralled to read the wonderful news that Tina Turner had received a life-saving kidney transplant from her husband.

It really was a heart-warming story to hear how the rock legend received a secret live kidney transplant last April after things took a turn for the worse for her despite having beaten intestinal cancer and a stroke.

I have to admit that I needed to ask Mum who Tina Turner was, but when I read her story, I drew so many parallels with countless patients who we have had the privilege of meeting along our journey.

In extracts carried in the media from the serialisation of her soon to be released autobiography, she says: "(I) faced two choices: either regular dialysis or a kidney transplant. Only the transplant would give me a good chance of a near-normal life. But the chances of getting a donor kidney were remote".

Reading how her husband put himself forward to donate to her and was found to be a match, after which surgeons proceeded to carry out the transplant, will be an inspiration to so many people and a new and exciting opportunity for the organ donation family to have its message once again carried to a worldwide audience.

Tina Turner has inspired millions across the world through her music, and now will inspire her audiences and fans to new heights with her life-saving transplant story. She truly is simply the best.

Boxing bouts have also been very much in the media at the moment, but it's an entirely different type of jab I want to talk about this week in my column - one which is extremely important for kidney patients and others in vulnerable groups.

Every year, we receive a letter inviting us as a family, and because of my immunosuppression, to head to Banbridge Group Surgery to have our winter flu vaccinations.

This year, post-transplant, was no different, although perhaps the jab was of even greater importance to help keep us stay cold and flu-free.

As we enter the winter and the weather takes a turn for the worse, it's always important to take every opportunity to protect yourself from those little sniffles which can so easily turn into a full-blown cold or flu.

We all know that having the flu can be unpleasant, but this will usually be short-term and clear up on its own quite quickly. However, for those in groups, including people aged over 65, pregnant women, children and adults with underlying health conditions or weakened immune systems - and that's me and my fellow kidney patients - the flu can develop into potentially serious complications, including pneumonia, which means it's always important for us to get our jab in first.

So, we made our way to Banbridge Group Surgery to join our appointed group where, after a short wait, we received our jabs and were on our way - it really was as easy as that, nothing to it really.

This week, Mum continues her presentations to organisations around our kidney transplant journey, and her role as local ambassador for Kidney Care UK, by making the journey to Antrim to speak with the local Probus Club.

In her role it's very important to continue to spread the good news messages around organ donation and the important work which happens every single day to support the needs of kidney patients and their families.

Mum gives people a behind-the-scenes look at our experience going through our live donation. She is keen to get the chance to speak with as many groups as possible across Northern Ireland to promote our message of hope.

If you would like to have her come and speak with your group, you can drop her an email at ambassadorni@kidneycareuk.org or drop me a line.

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