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'From vintage cars to my own new wheels ... and good news on Soft Opt Out system too'

In his weekly column, transplant recipient Mark Dobson, who is the son of former MLA Jo-Anne, looks back at moves in Scotland which could help all dialysis patients, and a brilliant charity event

This week marks a further positive step in the campaign for the introduction of a Soft Opt Out Organ Donation system across the country.

In Scotland the government's Bill has been passed to the Holyrood Health and Sport Committee to conduct the important role of scrutinising the proposed legislation and the impact that it can have on the lives of people who currently, and in the future will, need a transplant to save their lives.

You will remember I've spoken about my support for the Soft Opt Out movement, which means people are considered to have agreed to be an organ donor if they die, unless they have opted-out of the system.

As a now ex-dialysis patient, who has faced the possibility of a lifetime hooked up to a machine and indeed who counts amongst many of my closest friends wonderful people who are spending their lives hooked up, I know exactly what it would mean to give hope to patients for a better and brighter future.

This new legislation has the potential to increase the number of organ transplants that can take place in Scotland each year. Imagine the life-saving power of an all-UK system where the country as a whole adopted a new approach to organ donation, saving lives and promoting a legacy of generosity and love. Let's hope that the Committee for Health and Sport in Scotland can ensure that there is fair play around the introduction of legislation and that they base their decisions purely on the potential impact on patients both now and in the future.

Looking back to last Friday evening, our home village of Waringstown was certainly the place to be as the streets ground to a total standstill. No, it wasn't loose livestock or even the result of the roads melting in the heat, it was the amazing annual Northern Ireland Kidney Research Fund Vintage Cavalcade.

The charity was holding its annual event which attracts entrants with classic cars and vintage tractors and bicycles from across Northern Ireland and all in aid of a brilliant cause and charity.

This year was particularly poignant as it was the first year without the gentleman who co-founded the charity back in 1970, Mr Walter Kerr, who sadly passed away last November. Walter's stewardship was very much in evidence as always as the army of volunteers, collectors and marshals ensured that everything ran smoothly and the charity raised money to support research into kidney failure.

Walter has left a lasting legacy in Waringstown and across the world - a gentle giant of the organ donation family who is so dearly missed. Well done to everyone at NI Kidney Research Fund for all that you do.

This week turned out to be a very exciting one for me! As hundreds of shiny polished vintage cars descended outside our village for the annual Kidney Research Vintage Cavalcade, a very special new car arrived at the Dobson household.

Mum has been so amazing in giving me a new kidney and as a post-transplant treat has got me a new car from Isaac Agnew's as well! It's a red Mercedes which I know will see many journeys which simply wouldn't be possible for me to make when I was a dialysis patient.

Like so many people who have received a kidney transplant I can literally feel the release from a life on dialysis and can now cut a dash in my new car wherever I go. Thanks Mum!

From vintage transport to jet setting, later this week I will be making my first airborne journey since my transplant. I'm excited as mum and I are taking a few days break in London.

It will be lovely to get the chance to make a journey which would have been totally impossible for me to make while I was a dialysis patient.

I'm really looking forward to some sightseeing and trying to keep mum away from Regent Street and Oxford Street - although I think I will have my work cut out there!

Finally last week in my column I highlighted some of the mounting pressures which our amazing health service staff are facing, especially around the proposed reforms which we are told are 'coming down the line'.

The fact that we don't know when, how or indeed in what form transformation will take is placing untold pressures on the 'jewel in the crown' of our NHS - the staff - who face the frontline pressures every single day.

I just want to thank everyone who got in touch with me to express your support and indeed thanks for comments I made.

I know what it's like to place my life in the hands of heroes and want to make sure that they receive the support and resources they need to continue to save lives - free from uncertainty and in the best interests of patients.

That's it for another week - I will let you know how we get on during our short jaunt to London next week.

Belfast Telegraph

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