James’s organ transplant was made possible because the donor’s family gave permission for their relative’s organ to be donated soon after he died. “My life has been totally transformed and I’ve written to the donor’s family to say I know saying thank you is not enough but I wouldn’t let the lung go to waste and I would give life the best shot, for him and for me.”
By Cara Simpson Coventry Telegraph.net
JAMES O’Grady was verging on death over a year ago – now he has bounced back to health thanks to a life-saving lung transplant.
The 56-year-old Longford man was a prisoner in his own home just 15 months ago, hooked up to a restrictive oxygen tank as he waited patiently for a donated organ.
James said he had about the same chance of winning the National Lottery as he did finding a matching donor lung.
Now he is branding his transplant and rapid recovery a miracle, and urges others to become donor card carriers.
His lucky day arrived on March 15 last year when he received a call to say a matching lung had been found after a year waiting on the NHS Organ Donor Register.
He was rushed to Newcastle’s Freeman Hospital where he underwent a six-hour transplant operation.
“This is the closest I’ve ever come to a miracle,” he said.
“I honestly thought I’d be dead before last year was out because one infection could have killed me.
“My attitude was to take each day as it comes because I knew worrying wouldn’t make the organ arrive any sooner.”
James was diagnosed with the chronic lung condition emphysema in 2000 and placed on the Organ Donor Register in 2009.
The Telegraph reported his anxious wait for a donor lung in 2009 as part of a long-running campaign ahead of that year’s British Transplant Games in Coventry.
James had come to terms with the realisation his time was running out because of the lack of numbers on the Register.
Speaking to the Telegraph at the time, he said: “Breathing is something everyone takes for granted. You don’t even think about it until it’s too late and you’re in the same position as I am now.”
James’s organ transplant was made possible because the donor’s family gave permission for their relative’s organ to be donated soon after he died.
And because of their generosity, James is now able to live life to the full.
Reflecting on the first precious moments after he came around from surgery, he said: “I remember seeing the bright lights of the hospital and the nurse pulling out a large elephant trunk-like tube out of my throat.
"She told me to take a few deep breaths and when I took my first one, it was like drinking fresh water straight from the spring, like sweet syrup was trickling down my throat.
“It was amazing. To say breathing is something we all take for granted is a major understatement.”
James, a former chef and social worker, is now able to walk, enjoy the outdoors, go shopping on his own and exercise.
James said: “My life has been totally transformed and I’ve written to the donor’s family to say I know saying thank you is not enough but I wouldn’t let the lung go to waste and I would give life the best shot, for him and for me.”
James’s wife Joy said: “The transplant has given me my husband back.
“A transplant not only helps the patient, it helps their families too. I’m no longer his carer anymore, just his wife.”
For more information and to join the NHS Organ Donor Register phone 0300 123 23 23 or visit www.organdonor.nhs.uk
“You Have the Power to Save Lives – Register to be an organ and tissue donor & Tell Your Loved Ones of Your Decision”
United States, organdonor.gov (Select your state - top right)
United Kingdom, register at NHS Organ Donor Register
Australia, register at Australian Organ Donor Register
Your generosity can save or enhance the lives of up to fifty people with heart, kidneys, liver, lungs, pancreas and small intestine transplants (see allotransplantation). One tissue donor can help by donating skin, corneas, bone, tendon, ligaments and heart valves
Has your life been saved by an organ transplant? "Pay it forward" and help spread the word about the need for organ donation - In the U.S. another person is added to the national transplant waiting list every 11 minutes and 18 people die each day waiting for an organ or tissue transplant. Organs can save lives, corneas renew vision, and tissue may help to restore someone's ability to walk, run or move freely without pain. Life Begins with You