MLA issues plea for organ donors
An impassioned plea for an increase in organ donors has been made by an MLA whose son's life was saved by a transplant.
Ulster Unionist Jo-Anne Dobson told Assembly members the government must raise awareness of the great need for organ donors.
The Upper Bann representative said her family had experienced the life-saving potential of such procedures.
"I speak today not only as an MLA, but as the mother of a successful kidney transplant patient," she said.
"Three years ago my youngest son Mark had a kidney transplant, and if members will indulge me for a moment I would like to speak briefly about his story.
"Mark suffered from kidney disease since he was born, but when he was 13 he entered renal failure and was told that he would need to undergo a transplant operation within one to three years.
"At home we had always lived with Mark's kidney disease and adapted our lives around it, but I cannot relay to you the emotional shock it delivers to a family to hear that your son needs to undergo life-saving surgery at such an early time in his young life."
She said her son was fortunate enough to receive the gift of life from an unknown donor.
"But Mark is one of the lucky ones. He waited for 10 months for a successful donor organ to be found and in February 2009, aged 15, underwent the five-hour overnight operation at the Royal Belfast Hospital for Sick Children.
"We do not know who the donor of Mark's kidney was, and probably never will, but even so we thank their family every single day for giving Mark the gift of life."