Exclusive by Sam Kirby Salford Advertiser UK
A LOVING couple brought their wedding day forward by four months because they feared the groom, who is waiting for a life-saving liver transplant, would not live to see their big day.
Newly-weds Andy and Claire Loates, from Worsley were due to marry in March, but tied the knot last Saturday.
Now Andy, who suffers from an autoimmune disease which is attacking his liver, faces an agonising wait for a transplant.
Bride Claire, 24, said: "About eight weeks ago we found out the severity of Andy’s condition.
"If he doesn’t get a transplant within the next 10 months he will die so we brought the wedding forward in case we never get there.
"It was important to us and really means a lot."
The couple were married at the Novotel, in Worsley Brow, with Andy heading back to St James’ Hospital, in Leeds, after the ceremony.
And despite being tinged with sadness, the pair say they had a fantastic day.
Claire said: "The fact that we made it was amazing.
"The day before the wedding the hospital were saying he might not be allowed.
"It was a very emotional day but to see him standing and enjoying himself was a really big deal."
Andy, 34, said: "It was a real tall order just getting there, the hospital staff pulled out all the stops - we couldn’t have done it without them.
"I am really paying the price now but it was well worth it."
Claire and Andy are now trying to raise awareness about organ donations.
Andy said: "It’s so important that people are educated and understand it.
"People always assume liver disease is alcohol related but the ‘George Best’ scenarios are just a drop in the ocean compared to the number of people who need transplants for medical-related conditions.
"After being here and seeing it first-hand you understand.
"People need to think about organ donations and saving people’s lives.
"If my case helps just one person then it’s worth it."
Organ donations have hit the headlines in recent weeks with experts rejecting the idea of 'presumed consent'.
There are currently 8,000 people in the UK who need a transplant but only 3,000 operations are carried out each year, while around 1,000 people die while on a waiting list.
And Claire thinks an 'opt-out' system would help save lives.
"It's a fantastic idea and it would make such a difference," she said.
"Britain is the only country where by law the next of kin have the final say so even if you carry a donor card, your next of kin can refuse organ donation.
"A compulsory opt out scheme would be much fairer.
"People need to be taught about organ donation and what a difference it can make."
For more information about organ transplants (in the UK) or to become a donor go to: www.uktransplant.org.
“You Have the Power to Save Lives – Sign Your Donor Card & Tell Your Loved Ones of Your Decision”
Your generosity can save up to eight lives with heart, kidneys, liver, lungs, pancreas and small intestine transplants. One tissue donor can help up to 100 other people by donating skin, corneas, bone, tendon, ligaments and heart valves