A MAN from Wrexham has spoken about his lifesaving transplant as a new ‘opt-in’ organ donation bill got the go ahead.
The Human Transplantation Wales Act received Royal Assent on yesterday, meaning Wales will be the first country in the UK where people will be presumed to have agreed for their organs to be donated after death from December 2015.
And as ink was drying on the bill, Brent Carrington Roberts, 55, who was diagnosed with kidney failure aged 40, gave his backing to the move.
“My parents were great supporters of organ donation from as far back as I can remember,” he said.
“I joined the organ donor register in the early 1980s. It wasn’t something I gave a huge amount of thought to. I had no idea it would be so relevant to my survival.”
After his diagnosis in 1998, Brent went on dialysis and had a couple of calls offering a replacement kidney, but for various reasons he was unable to go through with a transplant operation.
He said: “Although I’m naturally a positive person, at times I found it difficult to cope.
I felt pretty unwell for the nine years spent on dialysis waiting for a kidney.
“I had to retire because of ill health due to the aggressive nature of the treatment.
Life on dialysis is like being on a roller coaster. At times I felt as if my life was slipping away before my eyes.
“I also had low energy and stamina levels and got little enjoyment from day to day things such as eating.”
In 2007 he had the lifesaving call that a match had been found, and he was fit enough to go ahead with the operation. He went into the Royal University Hospital Liverpool, where he spent six weeks recovering. He now attends Wrexham Maelor hospital every three months for a check up.
Mr Carrington said: “Since my transplant I’ve regained my energy and passion for life and food tastes great again. I’m proud of how well I coped and so grateful to my family and friends for their support. It’s at times like this you realise how many people think and care about you.”
Brent is now on the management committee of the Welsh Kidney Patients Association and regularly talks to lots of people about organ donation.
Wales has seen a 49 per cent increase in donation rates since 2008 but the NHS Blood and Transplant service said there are about 250 people on a waiting list for a transplant at any one time and 33 people in Wales died in 2012/13 while on the list.
The Welsh Government said yesterday’s step will “benefit the hundreds of people currently waiting for a donor organ”.