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Mark Dobson: I'm honoured to be involved in special documentary

In his weekly column, transplant recipient Mark Dobson, son of former MLA Jo-Anne, looks back at the preview of Life on the List

Ongoing crusade: attending the preview of documentary Life on the List were (from left) Joan Elliott, Jo-Anne Dobson, consultant surgeon Tim Brown, Mark Dobson, Eric Elliott and Stephen Watson
Ongoing crusade: attending the preview of documentary Life on the List were (from left) Joan Elliott, Jo-Anne Dobson, consultant surgeon Tim Brown, Mark Dobson, Eric Elliott and Stephen Watson

What an extremely busy week it has been in the Dobson household as we continue our crusade to promote organ donation.

Last March, when mum and I were going through our live donation journey, we were being followed around by BBC NI's Stephen Watson and his super camera crew from Imagine Media who were putting together a programme about the renal unit called Life on the List which is part of the True North series.

The cameras followed us on our visits to the renal and transplant units at Belfast City and Daisy Hill hospitals, attending a very emotional organ donation service in Botanic Gardens, at home and on our family farm.

Perhaps one of the most animated scenes is of me showing an enthusiastic level of support for the Northern Ireland football team at a match with my grandad. While I certainly had a chuckle watching myself being pretty forceful in my support, I am very conscious I wouldn't be able to do this if I was still hooked up to my dialysis machine.

Last Thursday we got to see an exclusive preview of the film in Belfast and we saw just how expertly and, I have to say, sensitively, Stephen has dealt with the different patient stories.

Organ donation is always an emotional story and I have to commend him for the way in which he put things across and portrays our wonderful renal unit - it really is a programme which emphasises the ultimate gift of love.

Regular readers will know that I have talked so many times about our super surgeon Tim Brown, Dr Aisling Courtney and so many others from the renal unit - but this programme really succeeds in bringing these lifesaving heroes to the screen.

Then on Saturday morning, mum and I travelled to BBC Broadcasting House as we were guests on the John Toal show to help promote Life on the List, talk about our transplant journey and also talk about the work of Kidney Care UK across Northern Ireland.

The media always plays an extremely important role in helping to promote our message encouraging people to think about giving the gift of life by sharing our own experiences.

I am indebted to the Belfast Telegraph for enabling me to keep talking about transplants each week in my column and also send our thanks to the BBC for their help in promoting the message through this wonderful documentary film.

If you haven't seen it yet you can catch it on the BBC iPlayer and I really encourage you to have a look and learn about the background to our transplant, as well as getting to go behind the scenes at the renal unit to hear from dialysis patients, kidney donors, transplant recipients, kidney patients and the amazing staff.

Being a part of this BBC documentary was very important for both mum and me. We are passionate about continuing to promote our message at every opportunity and to ensure we can use our own experience to inspire and motivate people to recognise that we all have it within us to be a lifesaver.

Meanwhile, I want to mention that mum met with an amazing 68-year-old lady during the week who is going to do a tandem skydive in memory of her late husband Jim.

Sandra is a superb lady who is remembering her beloved husband as well as raising funds to help kidney patients and their families across Northern Ireland through mum's charity Kidney Care UK and the NI Kidney Patients Association.

What a very brave lady Sandra is and I am really looking forward to telling you all more about her and what she is doing - watch this space.

Belfast Telegraph


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