Mark Dobson: 'A chat with loved ones makes organ donation much easier'
In his weekly column, dialysis patient Mark Dobson, who is the son of former MLA Jo-Anne, explains how having that life-saving conversation can help those waiting for a transplant
Historically January has been a month of glass half-full pessimism culminating in the famous Blue Monday which the experts tell us is statistically the most depressing day of the year.
Although Blue Monday is thankfully behind us, the stresses and strains of December always tend to leave behind a bad taste in January.
However fear not, I have the perfect solution and it involves the unique power of words and having that important conversation about organ donation which so many people never really get around to.
We all know how the power of words can help move mountains.
Words can result in a whole dictionary of emotions from admiration to love and from hurt to pain.
Words have the energy and power to drive forward so many wonderful changes, especially when they are spoken with respect, gentleness and humility.
But, when words are left unspoken, it always leaves behind uncertainty especially at difficult times of loss and grief - not least when it comes to making sure your wishes are understood and honoured.
That's why a few words about organ donation to the people you love can really make a difference to the lives of those who are waiting on a transplant.
Making people aware of your wishes makes it so much easier for them to support and honour those wishes.
With just a few words we all have the power to become a life-saver and this is all the more critical as it is confirmed that our transplant waiting lists continue to rise.
To give just one example, it was confirmed before Christmas that the waiting list for heart transplants has frighteningly gone up by a quarter between Christmas 2016 and 2017.
As a life-long transplant patient I found it really difficult and sad to take that in, as confirmed by NHS Blood and Transplant, the current heart waiting list of 298 people contains 33 children.
That's 33 young children spending Christmas waiting on a new heart - a Christmas of fear and uncertainty for them and for their families as they wait for a miraculous transplant which will give them a new life.
A few weeks ago in my column I talked about how new year resolutions lead to many important decisions which often have long-term and positive benefits, not just for those who make the resolutions but for our friends and family around us. I hope yours is going well and you are sticking to it.
You might remember that I made it my new year's resolution to stick to my renal diet - which, as any dialysis patient will tell you, is pretty restrictive - and remain as fit and healthy as I can in preparation to receive a transplant from my mum.
Waiting, worrying and wondering are three things which everyone on a transplant waiting list have in common.
Faced with the fact that demand for transplants continues to rise, this only increases the fear and worry for the patient and their families.
So to help banish those fears, as well as the January blues, please continue to spare a thought for organ donation and have that all important life-saving conversation - and if you already have, please encourage others to do so as well.
The more people who learn about organ donation and have that conversation, the greater the chances of patients receiving a transplant which begins the first chapter of their new life.