NE Scotland, Orkney & Shetland

Families in call for more life-changing organ donors

Brian and Bibo Keeley getting married Image copyright Bibo Keeley
Image caption Brian and Bibo Keeley got married in hospital after he had a severe heart attack

Families whose lives have been changed through organ donation are calling for more people to join the register.

NHS Grampian has revealed 16 people in the region donated their organs this year.

It reflects the small percentage of people who die in circumstances where it is even possible to donate.

Successful recipients of live-saving organs as well as relatives of people who died and donated organs are appealing for more people to sign up.

In 2013, Brian Keeley suffered a severe heart attack.

The prognosis was devastating for him and his partner Bibo.

'Some kind of future'

The now Mrs Keeley told BBC Scotland: "The doctor came in and then started to talk about having to switch the machines off.

"As soon as they left I said Brian, look, just don't listen to them, they don't know what they're talking about - they have no clue, you're not dying.

"In fact, we're going to get married, and we were married within 24 hours."

Image caption The couple hope others will volunteer to be donors

She said: "Brian's mum arrived in the morning, she had a handful of rings on and she said right try the rings on, and she found a ring that fitted."

Mr Keeley said: "I had a ring but I couldn't wear it because my hands were so swollen and painful."

After 101 days in intensive care, he had a heart transplant.

He recalled: "I woke up and I was still alive. It gradually dawned on me that I'd come through it, and there was some kind of future."

This year, 16 people in Grampian have donated their organs, resulting in 32 transplants.

'Unique circumstances'

Dr Catharina Hartman, explaining why the number is low, said: "Less than 1% of all deaths will happen in circumstances where it is possible for someone to donate.

"There are a couple of absolute prerequisites, one is that you probably need to be in an intensive care unit, and there has to be something that we can withdraw, that means we can sort of predict when you will actually die.

"Those are very unique circumstances, and that's one of the difficulties around organ donation - really not that many people fulfil those criteria."

With the number of eligible donors so low, the emphasis is on increasing the overall number on the organ donor list.

Image caption Harry Bruce (right) learned his son Stuart wanted his organs donated

Harry Bruce's son Stuart died in January last year.

Mr Bruce said: "He was always happy, if he had a bad day he just used to say this is not my day and get on with it."

Unbeknown to his parents, Stuart had signed up to the register.

Mr Bruce said: "First reaction was no, he's went through enough in his 37-and-a-half years.

"But we could be waiting for an organ so we went along with his wishes."

His son donated his kidneys, lungs and a heart valve.

Now his father wants to encourage others to sign up.

'Great relief'

He said: "At the time I had never even though about being organ donors, it was the furthest thing from my mind, which maybe was wrong, but as soon as this happened I signed up to be an organ donor.

"And quite a few people that I have known since then have signed up to be organ donors.

"It's a great relief to think there's someone out there who's gained a bit of quality of life with our misfortune."

Image caption The Scottish government wants to move to a system where people have to opt out of organ donation

On average, three people on the transplant waiting list die in the UK every day.

Hundreds of people in Scotland are currently waiting for a transplant while more than half of Grampian residents are on the register.

There have been organ donations from 100 people in Scotland as a whole this year, resulting in 253 transplants.

There are plans for a move to an-opt out system for organ donation in the future.

The Scottish government wants to adopt presumed consent.

More on this story

Related Internet links

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites