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Mark Dobson: I have thanked mum each day since transplant 17 weeks ago

In his weekly column, kidney transplant recipient Mark Dobson, the son of former MLA Jo-Anne, reveals his family's delight at a letter of thanks to his mother for her decision to be a live donor

This week mum received a special letter which I know meant the world to her. It was from the chief executive of NHS Blood and Transplant which manages the transplant services across the UK.

It was such a surprise to receive a very special thank you on behalf of the transplant community for donating her kidney to me.

I have thanked her every single day since our transplant 17 weeks ago, but it really is something special to receive recognition from NHSBT. To simply say thank you to someone for an act of kindness is so important, especially in the world of the instant message and emoji.

It's a fantastic gesture that our health service takes the time to send out a message of thanks to everyone who becomes a living donor and it just goes to show how important the living donor programme is both here in Northern Ireland and right across the UK.

Accompanying the letter was a beautiful sterling silver pin badge which incorporates the crossed anchor as a symbol of hope and the ancient Egyptian Ankh symbol to represent zest for life.

It was a lovely thought and very special to think that all the heroes who put themselves forward to be a live donor are sent a personal thank you from the entire transplant community for what they have done.

I know what this lovely letter means to mum and, like so many living donors, she will cherish it - as the letter says, and I couldn't agree more, 'offering someone the opportunity to enjoy better health and an improved quality of life with a successful transplant is a very special gift'.

Another special moment took place last week when dad picked up his third farming award in as many months.

He and mum were guests of McDonald's at the Great Yorkshire Show in Harrogate as it was announced that he had won their UK and Ireland Outstanding Beef Farmer Award. He supplies beef cattle to McDonald's through Linden Foods.

Dad works so hard and I know it's a real honour for him to receive this award along with the recognition of the continuous steps he's taking to produce his beef cattle to the highest standards.

This was dad's third award in just over a year as, back in May, he was also the recipient of the Prince's Countryside Fund/Marks & Spencer Farm Resilience Award 2018.

Dad has always been involved in bringing forward the next generation of young farmers and he has given me so much farming know-how, but the most important advice he gave is to have a lot of fun in the sector while, at the same time, farming safely.

This is such an important message given that this is Farm Safety Week - something which has always been very close to our hearts here on our farm in Waringstown. We have seen far too many lives lost needlessly on farms and every story sends ripples through the entire community.

Farming can be so much fun but we all know that it can also be a dangerous profession, perhaps the most hazardous in Northern Ireland with risk of accidents involving falls and injuries from livestock, slurry or equipment.

It's always important to heed the sound advice of the Health and Safety Executive and their emotive television campaigns are really striking a chord amongst the farming community.

Now that I'm post-transplant I'm not able to do as much as I could on our farm but I still know how important it is to look out for the risks, to take care and to stay as safe as possible. Like so many people, I love farming but I also know how important it is to stop and think safe.

Finally, a very sporting 'bien joué' to France on winning the World Cup by beating Croatia on Sunday.

Football didn't come home after all, but there's always another opportunity in four years for the Green and White Army to bring it home.

Belfast Telegraph

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