Bexley man who received life-changing transplant calls for more organ donors
PUBLISHED: 07:00 12 September 2018
A man from Bexley who received a life-saving combined kidney and pancreas transplant is calling for people from black, Asian and minority ethnic backgrounds to donate.
Jide Akinola, 51, from Belvedere, had the transplant at Guy’s Hospital in 2002.
Before then he was suffering from major complications caused by type 1 diabetes.
The civil servant was speaking out as part of Organ Donation Week.
NHS Blood and Transplant (NHSBT) organises the annual awareness week to promote the importance of people discussing their organ donation decision with their families, and to highlight how not doing this leads to many missed transplants.
This is an especially important issue for people from black, Asian and minority ethnic communities.
One in five people who die waiting for a transplant is from these communities because they are more likely to suffer from a disease which may require a transplant.
However, only 7pc of donors last year were from these backgrounds, with family refusal being the biggest obstacle to organ donation.
Jide was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes when he was 16 and by the time he went to university it had started to affect every part of his body.
Both of his kidneys had stopped working properly, he had cataracts in his eyes, nerve damage in his feet which led to him having part of his left big toe amputated, skin problems and high blood pressure.
He was added to the transplant waiting list in 1998 – four years before suitable organs were found – and started dialysis, a procedure which replicates the function of the kidneys, the following year.
Jide said: “Dialysis was very difficult and curtailed a lot of things I was able to do.
“I was very ill and constantly in hospital so I was very keen to have a transplant. Without it I knew my life was in danger.
“I remember getting the call saying a suitable match had been found like it was yesterday.
“It was one of the happiest and scariest days of my life. Once I had recovered I noticed I had more energy, felt healthier and my skin improved.”
Before hsi transplant, Jide didn’’t think he would be alive long enough to get married or have children because he was so unwell.
He met his wife Jerilen after his transplant and the couple married in 2013 before having their son Marc-Jayden the following year.
Jide said: “I never dreamed it would be possible to get married and have a child. I have a lot to be grateful for.”
A few years after his transplant Jide wrote to his donor’s family through the transplant coordinator at Guy’s.
Since then he has regularly met up with his donor’s mother, who came to his wedding and has met his son, and the pair are still in contact now.
Jide said: “It takes a very good person to donate their organs or to agree to their loved one donating at such a sad time.
“I feel a responsibility to make sure I keep my donor’s organs working by staying healthy and to travel and do all the things I couldn’t before.
“I always think about my donor on the anniversary of his death. He’s always in the back of my mind and I make sure that I move forward in life and better myself to honour him.”
Sam Newman, specialist nurse for organ donation at Guy’s and St Thomas’, said: “Last year, the families of 17 patients who died at Guy’s and St Thomas’ consented to organ donation.
“Thanks to their generosity, 39 seriously ill people received life-saving transplants.
“It’s important to recognise the life-saving gift the donors and their families have made, and the staff who made this possible.”
You can join the NHS Organ Donor Register by going online at www.organdonation.nhs.uk/register-to-donate or by calling 0300 123 23 23.