This is a transcript of my My View column that was published in the Doncaster Star on Monday 12 September, 2016
During last week’s Organ Donation Week I met Jack Cox, a very special Doncaster youngster whose life has been transformed thanks to a priceless gift from his grandmother.
Jack, 3, was born with severe kidney problems that doctors had detected during mum Jennifer’s pregnancy. When he arrived his first two months of life were spent in hospital while doctors tried to determine the extent of the damage to his organs.
After finally arriving at the family home in Tickhill, he spent the next two years in constant pain and had to be fed by a tube into his stomach. Healthy kidneys play a big part in supporting the body’s digestion system and, as he born with only one and it wasn’t working properly, Jack was also sick a lot.
He worsened and by September last year his sole kidney had started to fail and he had to endure nightly dialysis at home, being hooked up to a machine for about 12 hours.
A kidney transplant was the only solution to give Jack a normal life. So step forward grandma Julie Cox who, after compatibility tests, was found to be a near perfect match.
Julie had decided from Jack’s early days that if a transplant was needed, and if she was suitable, that she would willingly give up one of her kidneys.
Doctors wanted to wait until his body was big enough to accept his new kidney and that day came in May this year, when Julie went to Nottingham City Hospital to have one of her kidney’s removed, before it was raced the short distance to Queen’s Medical Centre to be transplanted into Jack.
Julie was up and out of bed within four hours of her operation but Jack unfortunately was unconscious for a couple of weeks and needed a further four operations. But the transformation was dramatic as his new kidney started to work. Having not spoken much, he became a chatterbox overnight and started behaving like a normal three year old.
Because of his young age, Jack may well need another new kidney in the future and Dad Steven is already lined up to keep it in the family. But it’s all looking good so far and mum Jennifer has been able to return to work with the Medicines Management team at our CCG after caring for him through his illness.
Jack’s story underlines the importance of becoming an organ donor. I am on the NHS Organ Register and I urge everyone to consider doing the same. It’s something we all need to consider with our families to make sure our wishes are known should anything unexpected happen to us.
There’s lots of material to help you make an informed choice about becoming a donor at www.organdonation.nhs.uk If you’re not sure if you’re registered or would like to speak to someone to help you make a decision you can ring 0300 123 23 23.
The key question we should all ask ourselves is: ‘If I needed an organ transplant would I have one?’