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Last Updated: Sunday, 13 January 2008, 15:14 GMT
How organ donations can change lives
The government is considering a radical overhaul of organ donation procedures, including a system whereby people would have to opt out if they did not want their organs used after their death.

Below, people whose lives have been affected by organ donation give their stories.

DEBBIE STONER, CHRISTCHURCH, DORSET

Jade Stoner
Jade Stoner's organs helped save the lives of four people

Debbie Stoner's life was shattered when her seven-year-old daughter, Jade, died after a road accident just outside her home.

She told BBC News: "Jade was playing outside and, for some reason, decided to cross the road. A car knocked her off her bike and it was a horrible, tragic accident," she says.

"We went to the hospital and they did checks on her but she was brain dead. My mum Barbara suggested donating Jade's organs so that her legacy could live on. I thought it was a great idea but my husband was initially against it.

"He said he wanted Jade to be left in peace - he said he didn't want her to be "hacked into pieces" but I talked to him and persuaded him to change his mind.

"Jade was all soul but when she died, all that was left was a shell. We didn't want her life to be in vain.

"She was the loveliest girl and was caring and giving and this was certainly the right decision.

"She has saved the lives of four people and we are immensely proud of her. Jade's heart was donated to a 10-month-old baby girl, while her liver was given to a 17-month-old baby boy.

"We have set up a website in Jade's name and when people read about her story, they have told us they feel inspired to become donors."

CAROLINE ABEL, HULL

Police worker Caroline Abel is certain she would have died before her 21st birthday if she hadn't received a kidney and liver transplant.

"Although it was 11 years ago, that transplant transformed my life", she says.

"I had problems with my kidneys from a very young age but then, and even now, the doctors were unable to pinpoint exactly what was wrong with me. They did not know if it was something I was born with or something I developed.

"All we knew was that they were deteriorating and I ended up on dialysis by the time I was 17. They offered me a kidney transplant and so were assessing my suitability for that when they realised there was something wrong with my liver too and I needed a multiple transplant.

"They gave me a pager so they could let me know as soon as I'd be able to have my operation but they ended up actually ringing me personally.

"I looked a mess before having the transplants. Although I was only 20, I looked like I was 60 years old. I had yellow eyes and my skin was a horrible colour and people would stare at me.

"My donor changed my life. All that I know about him is that he was from Sheffield, was 29 years old and died in a road accident.

"I wrote an anonymous letter to his family because you are able to do that and thanked them for his gift to me.

"I try and take care of my kidney and liver because of where it came from and, having been on the receiving end of a transplant, I only hope this proposal goes though."

STEWART RANKIN, NEWPORT, SOUTH WALES

Stewart Rankin
Stewart Rankin is still waiting for a heart transplant

Father-of-two Stewart Rankin says his long wait for a heart transplant has taken a terrible toll on his family.

The 57-year-old has a congenital heart condition which means his heart is the wrong way around and his arteries pump blood to the wrong places in his body.

To compensate for the defect his heart works harder than a normal heart would and consequently is larger and more muscular than it should be.

"I've been on the waiting list for 19 months now and my time is ticking," he says.

"Before you can have a transplant, you have to be assessed to see that you are fit enough. The longer I have to wait, the worse I get, so it's a no-win situation for me.

"I'm finding it harder to exercise and I now have breathing problems but there is no match.

"The other problem is I'm 5ft 7in and I need a big heart for the transplant to work properly. There are lots of factors to consider which people don't realise.

"To be fair, a lot of younger people are registering to be donors but there is a shortage in the older age groups and even ethnic minorities.

"My children are studying for the GCSEs and A-levels and I'm sure this stress is affecting them.

"I really feel for my wife too because when I'm sad or my daughters are, we know we can lean on her. Who can she lean on?"



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