Nine year transplant battle for Horsham couple

JPCT 160712 Jim and Shirley Rae - Shirley waiting on the kidney donor register for 9 years. Photo by Derek Martin
JPCT 160712 Jim and Shirley Rae - Shirley waiting on the kidney donor register for 9 years. Photo by Derek Martin

A Horsham couple, who have waited nearly a decade for a kidney transplant, are appealing for people to think twice before opposing a love one’s wishes for organ donation.

Shirley Rae, 64, of Beaver Close, has been on dialysis for 40 years and has had two kidney transplants.

She has been waiting for a third for more than nine years and the couple’s spare room now houses her dialysis machine.

Mrs Rae, who helped set up the organ donation card, said: “I went on the list ten years ago and I asked how long it would be. They said two years.

“We need an opt out system. We do charity things and I was in Swan Walk this year. You explain to people what it is and they say they would rather put £1 in the box and not take a donor card.”

She and her husband Jim, 59, have campaigned with the National Kidney Federation in Parliament for better policy for organ donation.

Ten years ago 90 per cent of kidney donations were dissected after death, today 60 per cent are from live donors.

He said said relatives often hold up the donation procedure of loved ones. “If you die in a car accident, with the permission from the police they will look for ID and if they find a donor card. you think whoopee, but mum and dad then say ‘little Jimmy isn’t going to be completely whole’.

“Although under law hospitals have the right to remove kidneys or other organs, what actually happens is they don’t touch anything. They are afraid of a law suit and they do not have the legal protection.”

The couple say if the Government made the system stricter, not only would millions of pounds spent on dialysis be saved, but the quality of so many people’s lives could be improved.

Mrs Rae can only drink 500ml of fluid a day, she undergoes dialysis for four hours every other day when the machine does the work of a natural kidney and because they could get a call from the hospital at any time, they have not been on a long holiday for years.

To make sure you are on the organ donation register go to the NHS Blood and Transplant website or call 0300 123 2323.