With four hour sessions of dialysis at Leeds’ St James Hospital every other day, Mr Ikram, of Wakefield, was forced to give up his job as a senior civil engineer with Leeds Council in 2010 when his renal function deteriorated so much he was placed on the transplant list.
He is just one of 486 patients in Yorkshire and the Humber who are waiting for the call to tell them the organ they need so badly is available. Sadly, new figures show 30 patients in the region have died while on the transplant waiting list so far this year alone.
Mr Ikram has backed NHS Blood and Transplant’s Christmas List campaign to encourage everyone to join the NHS Organ Donor Register.
“When you do go from this world, leave a legacy behind you, and allow someone to live their life more fully and happily,” Mr Ikram, 49, said. “I would love to be able to go back to work, to spend time away on holiday with my family.
“But I can’t even go to London for a trip out as I’d have to be back the same day - everything has to fit around my treatment regime.”
Mr Ikram was diagnosed with renal failure in 2005. Then, a biopsy revealed his kidneys were functioned at just 25 per cent. A combination of diet changes and medication kept him relatively well, but by 2010 he had just 8-9 per cent kidney function. He was hospitalised for a month, began dialysis and was placed on the transplant list. His wife and children have offered to get tested for donation, but Mr Ikram said he “couldn’t ask” a live donor, especially a family member.
“It is a great deal to sacrifice, I feel very emotional about it,” he said. “They have already lost out so much because of my illness.”
Wendy Lingham from York is one of the lucky ones. In March 2011, just three weeks after doctors told her she had just weeks left to live, she received a life changing heart transplant,
Ms Lingham, had dilated cardiomyopathy, a form of heart failure. Even getting up to see her son open his presents on Christmas 2010 had been a big struggle. She had begun making plans for her funeral when the call she’d been waiting for came.
She said: “After Christmas 2010, I cherish every Christmas as extra special. I now love to cook Christmas dinner and celebrate around the dinner table together with my little family, knowing how someone I never knew made sure we all stayed together as a family. My son couldn’t be happier in knowing he now has a healthy mum.”
Like Mr Ikram, Ms Lingham is urging anyone who can to sign the organ donor register and discuss their wishes with their families. Already this year, 371 patients in Yorkshire and the Humber have received a transplant thanks to families agreeing to donate a loved one’s organs.
Sally Johnson, director of organ donation and transplantation, at NHS Blood and Transplant said: “Quite simply, there is a shortage of donated organs but if more families agreed to donate a loved one’s organs, more people would get the transplants they need. So when you are spending time with your loved ones this Christmas, please take a few minutes to sign the Organ Donor Register. By telling those closest to you that you want to donate you will remove the burden of them having to guess what you would have wanted at a difficult time.”
On any given day across the United Kingdom, nearly 7,000 people will be hoping for a transplant, according to the NHS, and three will die waiting.
While some will be able to enjoy Christmas and look towards a brighter future, the NHS Blood and Transplant Christmas List campaign aims to draw attention to the thousands of people who are still waiting for a transplant and encourage everyone to join to the donor register.
Anyone wishing to join the NHS Organ Donor Register can visit www.organdonation.nhs.uk, call 0300 123 23 23 or text SAVE to 62323.
Those who sign up should let loved ones know their wishes.