Everyone knows that organ donors are lifesavers, and there is often a long waitlist for people hoping for a chance of an organ transplant.
The list of people with life-threatening illnesses far outnumber willing organ donors, which is why highlighting the incredible impact of organ donations is important to show how donors can change people’s lives.
In 50 years, the transplantation of human cells, tissues or organs has become a successful worldwide practice according to the World Health Organization.
Transplants save lives and restore essential functions particularly when alternative treatments or options are no longer available to the patient.
In 2020, the Global Observatory on Donation and Transplantation reported a total of 129,681 organ transplants, led by kidney (80,926), liver (32,586), and heart (8,101) transplant operations.
The numbers, however, indicate a 17.6% decrease from the number of organ donors recorded in 2019.
There should be a greater effort to show that transplants save lives to encourage more people sign up as organ donors.
This is exactly what Gareth Weeks of Fife, Scotland aimed to achieve when he recently posted his photos on Twitter.
His two photos with his 6-year-old daughter Zara were similarly posed but showed the before and after impact of a liver transplant.
Weeks happily declared in his post, “Organ donation really does save lives!” Organ donors, whether living or postmortem, certainly give others a second chance at moving forward with a long and healthy life.
In the first photo, Weeks’ stomach is bloated, and his skin is practically yellow from jaundice, an after effect of an incurable chronic liver disease known as primary sclerosing cholangitis (PSC).
The second photo shows a remarkable difference – his stomach is no longer swollen, and Weeks’ skin looks healthy. A large post-surgery scar is also evident on his abdomen.
The first photo was taken on May 11, 2022 before Weeks received his life-changing donation. The next photo was a mere six weeks after he received a liver transplant.
Beaming and happy, with his skin restored to its normal tone, Weeks showed how organ donors give the ultimate gift to others – the gift of life. He added, “Please talk about it and let your loved ones know your wishes.”
Six years ago, Weeks was always exhausted even when he had more than enough sleep. He dismissed his fatigue to having an infant at the time, but then he began to suffer from stomach pains, cramping, back pain, and jaundice.
He was diagnosed with primary sclerosing cholangitis, and that was when his liver problems began. He declared, “I had no idea what it was.” PSC occurs when the bile ducts in the liver are blocked.
Bile then builds up and damages the liver. If left untreated, people with PSC may have only 10 to 12 years left to live. Weeks immediately understood that he needed to get on an organ transplant list.
He said, “Over the next few months I was trying to come to terms with having a chronic illness, but it was strange because physically, other than being tired, I felt fine.”
In 2021, however, Weeks became extremely ill, and his doctors listed him for a liver transplant in September. He waited for seven long agonizing months for the phone call that would give him his health and life back.
Finally, he received good news on May 16, 2022 – he was a match for a liver that became available! Weeks shared, “Once the surgeon gave the go-ahead, the next thing I remember was waking up in ICU at 8:30 a.m. the next day with a breathing tube in my throat.”
Gareth was released from the hospital just two weeks after his successful transplant. Now, for the first time in six years, his liver function is finally in the normal range. He is extremely grateful to the organ donor who made his second lease at life possible.
“But because of the generosity of my donor and their family, I am excited about my future again. I want to go back home on holiday to South Africa, finally use the bicycle I bought a few years ago and start golf again,” Gareth said,
Because of this fresh new start, Weeks is more determined than ever to live life to the fullest! Weeks hopes that his dramatic photos will inspire more people to become organ donors or “true heroes” for others.
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