Duncan family post selfies to raise awareness about organ donation

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Andrew Duncan keeps a suitcase packed and ready by the front door.

At any moment he could get the life changing call that a heart donor has been found. He then has just precious hours to get himself to the specialist hospital in Newcastle where the surgery is carried out.

It’s a call that came on Easter Sunday last year. However because of complications the transplant could not go ahead.

Since then Andrew’s had a tough road to walk.

On the one hand he has to be sick enough to be deemed suitable for a transplant, but medics have to be sure he’s not so sick he won’t make it through the operation.

His condition has made his family firm supporters of raising awareness of the importance of signing the organ donor register.

And while men and women across the North West were putting their selfies up on facebook last week, Andrew, his wife Suzanne, and children Aimee and Robbie put up their own donor selfie pics.

“I put up my own selfie showing my scar,” revealed Andrew. “It is all about raising awareness for Heart Transplant UK,”

It was back in 2000 when Andrew had an operation for Crohn’s Disease that he was told there was a problem with his heart.

“I wasn’t recovering well,” he said. “My father died when he was just 40 from a heart condition so I was concerned.”

In October 2011, Andrew was put on the transplant list. His condition meant he couldn’t work, can barely walk and leaves him easily fatigued.

He also has an artificial heart pump fitted and is on numerous medications.

As well as having complications with his heart Andrew needs dialysis on his kidneys three times a week.

“We take things day by day,” explained wife Suzanne. “On Boxing Day two years ago Andrew took a brain haemorrhage, he was very sick. Doctors told me to tell my kids he was dying. Three days later he was sitting up on the bed chatting away.

“We have had times when we’ve had to spend months away in Newcastle. That has been difficult on our children who have to stay behind.”

The couple are avid supporters of the ‘Presumed Consent’ campaign when it comes to organ donation.

“So many people say they would like to be a donor but don’t carry the card,” said Andrew. “I was always a donor and my kids are donors now. They all have the defective gene that carries the disease and go for regular testing.

“My father would have had a chance of living if there had been a donor. I was just six years old when he died, and my brother was just a year.

“But being on the list I’ve seen both sides of it. My sister Alison had a heart transplant and is doing well. But I’ve known people who’ve died waiting for a transplant and a couple of guys who have lost legs.

“But what I’ll be doing is keep campaigning. I recently did a walk for the British Heart Foundation across the Peace Bridge and Craigavon Bridge raising £2,500 but what I’d like to do is do the Great Northern Run

For more information on becoming a donor please log on to http://www.heart-transplant.co.uk/




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