Organ Donation Week: South Shields man celebrates 25 years since double transplant
Neil Bradshaw received a pancreas and kidney in 1998.
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A man from South Shields has celebrated 25 years since he received a double transplant at Newcastle’s Freeman Hospital.
Neil Bradshaw received a new pancreas and kidney in 1998, and on the same day asked his now-wife Alison, to marry him.
64-year-old Neil, who is a former IT support technician, usually marks the anniversary of his double transplant privately, by lighting a candle in church to remember the person who gave him the gift of life.
As Neil celebrates a milestone year since his life-changing operation and to mark Organ Donation Week, he decided to share his story to help build awareness of the incredible difference organ donation can make.
He said: “I got my second chance when I was called into hospital at 2am in the morning and was told I was an almost perfect match and the transplant could go ahead,”
“I’d always said if I get this opportunity of a transplant I’m going to propose and that’s just what I did before going into theatre – five weeks later I walked out of hospital with a new pancreas, kidney and a future wife.”
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Neil was in general decent health despite being a Type 1 diabetic, and was a keen indoor and outdoor rock climber. However, his physical health began to deteriorate leading to the discovery that he was in ‘borderline renal failure’.
One year later, Neil began dialysis and was put on the transplant list, undergoing the life-changing operation only five months later.
“That person who gave me the chance of life will be in my mind until the day I die,” he said.
“I’ve never received any information about my donor or their family but there is never a day that goes by that I don’t think of them.”
The law around organ donation in England was changed in May 2020 in order to allow people to save more lives. It is now considered that you agree to become an organ donor when you die if you’re over 18, have not opted out and are not in an excluded group.
This year’s campaign aims to encourage 25,000 people to register their decision to become an organ donor and to talk to their loved ones about the decision.
Neil added: “Have those conversations – by doing so you’re potentially agreeing to turning someone else’s life around from back to front and helping them to lead as normal a life as possible.
“It really is a gift and I’m sure families get a lot of comfort knowing a loved-one lives on through someone else.”