Health crisis fears due to drop in donors

Kevin Mashford who has had a heart transplant.

Kevin Mashford who has had a heart transplant. - Credit: Archant

The number of people donating organs has fallen for the first time in 10 years, sparking fears of a health crisis.

Kevin Mashford who has had a heart transplan with his wife Jo and childern Luke, Josh and Liam.

Kevin Mashford who has had a heart transplan with his wife Jo and childern Luke, Josh and Liam. - Credit: Archant

Four out of 10 families are refusing to allow their deceased relatives’ organs to be donated, according to the NHS blood and transplant department.

NHS bosses believe a revolution in attitudes towards organ donation is needed to prevent hundreds of people from dying while waiting for a transplant.

A father-of-three from Backwell who owes his life to an organ donor is appealing for people to sign the donor register to give others a second chance.

Kevin Mashford, aged 39, was born with congenital heart disease and had major reconstructive surgery and three pacemakers fitted to treat the condition.

In March 2013, he was admitted to hospital with end stage heart failure after being on the transplant list for more than a year.

Kevin was told he had multiple organ failure and desperately needed a transplant or he would die. He said: “At that point the consultant said that I could have died at any time because congenital patients have a habit of falling off the cliff rather than a steady decline.

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“I was going to die without a transplant and my two children would have grown up without a dad and my wife would have been without a husband.”

On May 4, 2013, Kevin was given a new heart from a man called John who was killed in a cycling accident.

His heart was so enlarged the operation took 14 hours instead of eight, but Kevin was committed to making a full recovery and was off the ventilator just four hours later.

He said: “When they told me they had a heart for me I felt so at peace. I went through a mix of emotions because I immediately thought somebody else was really grieving because they had lost a loved one.

“But they were also carrying out his wishes by helping someone else to live.

“It changed my life. I felt an immediate difference. I had pink cheeks instead of the grey/blue colour.

“I’d been given a strong heart and I was determined not to waste it.”

Since his operation, Kevin has taken up cycling in memory of John and he has his donor’s name inscribed on his cycle helmet.

Last month Kevin, along with 50 other fundraisers, cycled 342 miles from Ashton Gate to the Freeman Hospital in Newcastle where he had his transplant and raised £50,000 for the charity he has set up called The Transplant Association.

The charity raises awareness about organ donation and supports NHS transplant centres.

Kevin and his wife Jo have also just had a third child, Luke, who would not be around if it wasn’t for John.

Kevin said: “He’s a little miracle. He wouldn’t be here without organ donation.

“His middle name is John in memory of my donor.

“He was registered on the organ donor list 25 minutes after being born.”

He added: “I now try to do as much as I can for the Transplant Association.

“For me to be able to complete a 342-mile bike ride is amazing given I couldn’t walk 50 yards before my operation without being sick or passing out.

“Physically I’ve never felt better.”

Kevin and Jo and their children Josh, aged 10, Liam, aged six, and Luke, five months, are now appealing for people to sign the register.