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Gorleston man Peter Kirkpatrick who planned own funeral is now “too well” for clinics after transplant

PUBLISHED: 12:44 06 September 2017

Peter Kirkpatrick before and after his liver transplant. Photos: Filmedia and P&O Cruises

Peter Kirkpatrick before and after his liver transplant. Photos: Filmedia and P&O Cruises

Filmedia and P&O Cruises

Peter Kirkpatrick’s life was hanging by the thinnest of threads when it was saved by an organ donor he knows almost nothing about.

Peter Kirkpatrick in intensive care on the day of the transplant with 48 staples in his body. Photo: supplied by Peter KirkpatrickPeter Kirkpatrick in intensive care on the day of the transplant with 48 staples in his body. Photo: supplied by Peter Kirkpatrick

It means someone somewhere made a decision to join the register and possibly tell their relatives about their wishes.

But it is something he hopes people will not have to do in the future and is pushing for a system which assumes everyone is prepared to help others after they have died, unless they opt out.

Pictures taken before and after Mr Kirkpatrick’s transplant show the dramatic effects of the surgery that saved him.

The 62-year-old is telling his story and releasing the pictures as part of organ donation week and as new figures show more than 150 people in our region have died on the waiting list for an organ transplant over the past 10 years.

Mr Kirkpatrick, of Limmer Road, Gorleston started to fall ill with liver failure in 2015 eventually slipping into a short coma.

Christmas that year was expected to be his last, and living until Easter was a major target.

He had just weeks to live and was bed and wheelchair bound. His only trips out were to have 11 litres of toxic fluid his body couldn’t process drained from his stomach.

But on January 16 2016 he received a phone call from Addenbrooke’s hospital in Cambridge saying that a liver was available.

It turned out to be a match and he left hospital a week later. The donor was a man in his 70s.

Now, 20 months post-surgery he is considered “too well” to attend clinics, has married Debs, and enjoyed a honeymoon cruise to the Canaries.

Life could not be better.

He said: “You are more likely to need a transplant than to donate an organ. And it is likely that if you do donate you have died on life-support in hospital.

“We have a lower transplant rate than Spain. The technology is there, the money is there, the people are there, but they can only do a couple a week because the donor organs are not available.”

He has thrown himself into volunteer work with the RNLI and Gorleston community among others and qualified as a civil funeral celebrant.

Now he is keen to highlight the need for organ donation, and to push for a change in the law which would make everyone an automatic donor.

To register as an organ donor click here

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