Knebworth’s triple transplant miracle mum urges for openness about organ donation

Kathryn Graham is raising awareness of the need for families to discuss organ donation

Kathryn Graham is raising awareness of the need for families to discuss organ donation - Credit: Archant

A mother-of-two who had a heart and double lung transplant is urging families to discuss organ donation after the number of people donating their organs fell for the first time in more than a decade.

NHS donor card

NHS donor card - Credit: Archant

Kathryn Graham, who lives in Knebworth, was diagnosed with pulmonary hypotension and spent two years on a waiting list, having intravenous medication round the clock before organs became available.

The 54-year-old, who was told by doctors in 2010 she had two years to live, had life-saving triple transplant surgery in 2013 and hasn’t looked back since.

She said: “It has completely changed my life. I was in a wheelchair a lot of the time before the transplants, and now I have just come back from a holiday in Italy where I went swimming for the first time in five years.

“It doesn’t ever go away what a miracle this has been and what a wonderful gift I’ve received.”

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But according to a report published last week, the number of transplants performed in the UK has decreased from 4,655 in 2013/14 to 4,431 in 2014/15.

This five per cent decrease is due to the consent rate of families remaining below 60 per cent, as well as the fact fewer people died in circumstances where they could donate last year.

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Kathryn said: “Obviously with fewer donors, the importance of gaining family consent is such a high priority. It is so important to discuss your wishes on organ donation. “Ninety per cent of families give consent if they know it’s what their loved one wanted.

“There are over 7,000 people waiting for transplants - real people.

“Organ donation is the ultimate gift and leaves a lasting legacy. Please sign up to the Organ Donor Register and discuss organ donation with your family. It would be wonderful if all those waiting could be given the new chances I’ve been lucky enough to have.”

In Herts in the past five years, 66 people have died waiting for a transplant, and 166 people are currently waiting for a transplant. In the county, 62 people’s lives were saved or improved thanks to organ donations from people who had died, as well as 27 people who benefitted from a living donor transplant - where donors gave a kidney or part of their liver.

Sally Johnson, NHS Blood and Transplant’s director of organ donation and transplantation, said: “We cannot hope to save more lives unless there is a revolution in attitudes towards organ donation. We need everyone to talk about organ donation with their families and agree to donate if ever they are asked.”

To join the NHS Organ Donor Register visit or call 0300 123 23 23.

Anyone can register - age and most medical conditions are not a barrier, and one donor can transform up to nine lives.

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