Ingrid Leon, from Fettercairn, has shared the story of how organ donation has touched her life, to urge people to join the Organ Donor Register.
As someone who watched her mother and husband go through organ transplants, Ingrid, 35, has spoken of the huge impact that the generosity of their donors has had on her family.
Ingrid’s mother Helen underwent two liver transplants throughout her life, after being diagnosed with primary biliary cirrhosis, a chronic disease which damages the bile ducts in the liver. Although the first transplant was successful, the disease put a huge strain on her body and she sadly passed away in 2011.
Just two years later, when Ingrid was pregnant with her second child, Ingrid was hit with the news that her husband Stuart was suffering from chronic kidney disease which eventually resulted in him being listed for transplant in May 2013. Seven months after being placed on the transplant waiting list, Stuart received the call he had been waiting for. His kidney transplant went ahead successfully and he made a fantastic recovery.
Ingrid said: “My mum was given a second chance at life thanks to her transplant and she absolutely grabbed it with both hands. She was really spontaneous and fun-loving. She travelled all over the world and was the life and soul of any party. She was so glad to have been given this gift of life that she wanted to live every day as if it was her last.
“During the two years between Mum getting her second transplant and passing away, she was able to see both my brother and I get married and also have our first children. I will always remember the look on her face when I told her I was pregnant with my first child. She was absolutely delighted that she was going to become a grandparent. It meant so much to her. If it hadn’t been for the generosity of her donors, she would never have been there for these significant milestones.”
Speaking about her husband’s transplant in December 2013 , Ingrid said: “It was a really difficult period for us. We had two young kids at this stage and Stuart was trying to keep on top of his dialysis as well as holding down a demanding job. He couldn’t help out as much as he wanted to with the baby because he was so exhausted all the time. When I look back to that period I think it’s safe to say we weren’t really living, we were just surviving.
“Stuart’s now 18 months post-transplant and he’s doing really well. He’s back at work full-time and we’re now expecting our third child. It’s all thanks to the generosity of his donor that he was given this opportunity to make a full recovery and live a healthy life again.
“I think my story is an excellent example of how organ donation can affect so many lives. It doesn’t just affect the person receiving the transplant – it goes on to touch so many other lives. It’s a real domino effect. If it wasn’t for my mum’s two donors, she wouldn’t have been there for all these amazing milestones in my life. Likewise, if it wasn’t for Stuart’s donor, he wouldn’t be able to live the life he is now and we wouldn’t be expecting our third child. It has such an amazing impact on so many lives.
“A lot of people agree with organ donation but don’t get round to joining the NHS Organ Donor Register. I hope that by sharing my story a few of these people take the time to just go ahead and do it. It doesn’t take long at all and could one day have such an incredible impact on someone like my mum or my husband. Organ donation has changed my life more than I could possibly have ever imagined.”
To join the NHS Organ Donor Register, visit www.organdonationscotland.org