Thursday, 5 January 2012

Organ donation - the greatest gift you can give.

This gorgeous little baby is called Poppy. She's the daughter of one of my oldest and very best friends - and this is her surrounded by gifts on her first ever Christmas.

This Christmas there were thousands and thousands of families celebrating baby's first Christmas - but the fact that Poppy got to celebrate hers with her family is miraculous.

When Poppy was born in May 2011 nobody knew that she was going to be born very, very poorly. Like all families about to welcome a new baby, Poppy's expected her to be well, and everything to be straightforward - but a very poorly baby arrived. Poppy had a very rare benign tumour - mesenchymal haematoma - on her liver.

This is Poppy when she was just a few days old. 

At just three weeks old little Poppy had the tumour resected. The tumour weighed 2lb2oz. Everyone prayed very hard that the remaining part of her liver would heal and be strong enough to function properly and keep Poppy alive - but it wasn't strong enough. Very soon afterwards Poppy went into liver failure, and was put on the super urgent transplant list.

Here Poppy is just after the tumour resection, with very poor function in her remaining liver.

Finding a donor for anyone waiting for a transplant is hard - finding one at desperately short notice is almost impossible. So few people are registered - just 29% of the UK population. Twenty nine per cent. That's such a small figure. 

Because the availability of donor organs is limited three people a day die, who could have been saved if more people registered.

Poppy was one of the lucky ones and all our prayers were answered on 30 June 2011 - after just 4 days on the super urgent list. The miraculous gift that someone gave meant that what could have been simply a tragedy led to new life - a long, healthy, gift of a life.

The first week of July 2011 Poppy, thanks to the incredible gift a donor gave, was pink, with a functioning liver, for the first time in her life. Thanks to one person signing onto the donor register Poppy and her family got to spend Christmas together this year - and will be able to do so next year, and the year after, and the year after that.

Here are some more facts you might find interesting.

In the UK between 1 April 2010 and 31 March 2011:
  • 3,740 organ transplants were carried out, thanks to the generosity of 2,055 donors.
  • 1,008 lives were saved in the UK through a heart, lung, liver or combined heart/lungs, liver/kidney, liver/pancreas or heart/kidney transplant.
  • 2,732 patients' lives were dramatically improved by a kidney or pancreas transplant, 156 of whom received a combined kidney/pancreas transplant.
  • A further 3,564 people had their sight restored through a cornea transplant.
  • A record number of 567 non-heartbeating donor kidney transplants took place and accounted for one in five of all kidney transplants.
  • 1,045 living donor kidney transplants were carried out accounting for more than a third of all kidney transplants. 'Non-directed' living donor transplants (also known as altruistic donor transplants) and paired and pooled donations contributed more than 60 kidney transplants between them.
  • Almost 675,000 more people pledged to help others after their death by registering their wishes on the NHS Organ Donor Register, bringing the total to 17,751,795 (March 2011).
I registered to be a donor when I was 16. When we met, my husband wasn't registered and he registered after I begged him to. Both of my sons are registered. I pray every day that they won't die - but I know that I would find some comfort knowing that if I had to lose them, another family wouldn't have to lose their loved one too. I know that if I die in an accident that someone else will be able to take their loved one home for another Christmas - maybe even a first Christmas.

Look at Poppy - she is a happy, beautiful, cuddly baby girl. Thanks to a donor. If that person hadn't registered Poppy's family would have lost her. 

Would you take an organ? If your child was fighting a serious illness and needed a transplant to survive, would you take it?

If you would take an organ, for yourself or for your babies, please - I'm genuinely begging now - please register. For Poppy. For your babies. For those people out there who are praying at their babies bedsides. It truly is the greatest gift that you can give.

This is Poppy now - showing off the scar that proves what an incredible little fighter she is.

This is Sophie. She's Poppy's Mummy. She is one of the most wonderful people I've ever known - she is an incredible mother, a great friend and brings happiness and laughter everywhere she goes. That there is Steve - Poppy's Daddy. He is a brilliant, funny, gentle man. They are both good people who had a terrifying, difficult year and they, with Poppy and their son Hayden, are a wonderful family. 

Thanks to the donor they can BE a wonderful family. Thanks to the donor they can look forward to a much happier and less scary 2012 - and future.

Sophie is promoting the Operation Chip-BE campaign and in her honour, in Poppy's honour, so are we. Please read, please promote, please tweet, blog, put it on your facebook page - anything you can do to raise awareness. 

Thank you.

Monday, 2 January 2012

Crossing the road.

This post is dedicated to the little green man.

Not aliens - that's a different conversation altogether - I mean the little green man who keeps our children safe at road crossings.

My two year old knows when we get to the lights that he has to press the button, hold Mummy or Daddy's hand and wait for the little green man - and sometimes the bleeps - before he can cross over. 

He's REALLY good at remembering about the little green man. Today was the first time ever, ever, ever that he's slipped up - he was a little excited and tried to just run across. I had hold of him so managed to stop him being hit by the car that whooshed through - but only just! 

I pulled him back, and crouched down to hug him (he gave himself a little fright!) and spoke to him about that being why we have to wait for the little green man. Sometimes you think it's safe but if the green man isn't there a car could come very fast and hurt you - so you MUST wait for the green man.

As I finished this conversation with him a woman waiting beside us darted across the road between cars, when there was a red man, dragging her elderly dog behind her. 

This caused three things. 

1: the car coming down the hill braked sharply to allow her and her elderly dog to make it across unharmed.

2: the lady on the other side trying to convince three children (all older than mine but younger than 10) that they had to wait lost her rag and her tween girl loudly commented that it wasn't A GREEN MAN so nobody should be crossing yet.

3: I lost my rag.

Seriously. She just saw my son almost get squished. She saw me comforting him (and me) and talking about the importance of the green man and waiting patiently. She could see that there were 5 children present, all with parents trying to teach them road safety. And like a total moron, she crossed on a red man.

That taught all those kids that our word isn't law - it taught them that risks can be taken. It planted something in all of their minds that one day they might act upon, and it might get them hurt (or worse).

That woman's impatience and selfishness could end up causing some serious trauma - all because she was far too important to wait another minute to cross safely.

I get that sometimes it feels like you're waiting FOREVER. I get that sometimes there are huge gaps in the traffic that you can safely cross in. But please, do me - and every other parent on the planet - a favour; if there's a kid somewhere near by who can see you, set a good example. We all learned the green cross code at school - think on, and you might avoid causing some serious pain.

Sunday, 1 January 2012


I don't think it's best that I make a public statement of new year's resolutions - it means too many witnesses to my struggles to maintain any of them beyond a week (I WILL do exercise every day, I WILL live on salad leaves and lukewarm water, I WILL be a serene and perfect wife/mother/person I WILL do the dishes immediately after every meal, I WILL iron laundry as soon as it's dry and not just one item at a time in a rush, when I'm running late for work...honest, I really will!)

I think, though, that there are some important lessons I've learned in the last year that I should endeavour to carry forward, and hope that in writing them here I can help someone else to learn them without having to go through the process of making the mistakes in the first place!

1: Your parents WERE right when you were a teenager. More to the point, they really DID understand, and it probably WAS fair.

2: Doing something that's just easier right now WILL make something tomorrow harder (leaving the dishes, not ironing shirts, letting the baby sleep in your bed...)

3: Self loathing doesn't achieve anything. Get over it.

4: Not all the people you tell your secrets to are your friends.

5: Don't run out of anti depressants - the reason you feel absolutely fine and able to cope with things is because you're taking them! 

6: Depression is an illness, not a failing.

7: Asking for help when you need it is what makes you big and strong, not pretending you're big and strong and trying to do everything at once.

8: A day only has 24 hours in. You can't do it all. Let some things slide.

9: If you break something, don't leave it on the side/in a drawer to 'fix later' - either fix it now, or throw it away. You aren't going to fix it later. It IS going to taunt you from that shelf, every day, for a year, reminding you that you're just a little bit rubbish.

10: It's ok for people to disagree with your opinion. Who knows, maybe you aren't even right?! (ha, as if...ok...) you don't have to try and convince them otherwise. You won't win. You WILL look like a twat. 

11: When you act like a twat, just say sorry. People are generally ok with that. 

12: Ring your family. They're always pleased to hear from you, and you always feel good afterwards. (Unless they're awful, awful people - in which case ring your best friend and slag them off)

13: Sometimes your friends ARE your family. 

14: Bite your tongue. Some battles aren't worth having. If you want your husband to sleep in the same bed as you bite your damn tongue.

15: Ask nicely. 

16: Sniff the milk BEFORE you pour it in the last available scraps of cereal in the bowl.

17: Don't buy it if you can't afford it. It won't 'work itself out' later - you'll just be in debt. And hungry. 

18: V&D bugs aren't 'all gone' the following day. You WILL give the bug to an entire wedding party of people, and your whole office, if you don't keep indoors for another 24 hours.

19: Don't do shots. Just don't. It never ends well.

20: Don't say yes to everything when people ask. Even if the people asking are you. Sometimes you have to say no, and stop for a minute. 

21: Go to bed when you're tired. 

22: Go to sleep when you go to bed - reading is not sleeping, talking is not sleeping, poking your poor husband to make him listen when he IS sleeping and you're talking is not sleeping. Go to sleep.

23: Don't have another cake.

24: Don't offer an opinion unless someone has invited you to do so. 

25: Don't use the words "Fat girls" on twitter. 

26: Don't take the internet too seriously. Sometimes people are having a bad day, and will take it out on you. Sometimes you're that person. When you're that person, turn it off and go for a walk.

27: However cute the baby is, don't let him sleep with you every night. I already covered this one, but I'm reminding you because I forget EVERY DAY and fall for his cute, sleepy face.

28: Don't decide you're going to write a list of 30 things on a blog post, you'll get stuck before you hit your target.

29: Don't play with your mobile in the bath.

30: Don't leave small children on furniture whilst you nip out of the room. They fall.