Gifts do not come any better than the gift of life and this week a Burgess Hill woman is celebrating just that.
Sarah Jones, 43, suffered years of ill health and medical treatment after being born with major urological problems.
She underwent more than 50 operations and ended up with damage to her kidneys because of the amount of invasive surgery and infections she suffered.
In 2001 she had to start dialysis with a machine taking over the role of her kidneys. Sarah had to be hooked up to a dialysis machine several times a week for four hours at a time.
And for five long years Sarah also had to restrict what she drank to just 500ml a day and carefully watch what she ate.
When she finally underwent a kidney transplant, her life was transformed. She said: “Since that day my life has returned to normal.”
And to celebrate her past 10 years of ‘normality’ and a second chance of life, Sarah wants to help others who are awaiting transplants.
She is urging everyone to consider organ donation, and is now a trustee for the national organ transplant charity Live Life Give Life, which promotes organ donation throughout the country.
One of the charity’s ambassadors is Simon Howell, also from Burgess Hill, who has been on the transplant waiting list for a second kidney for years.
Experts say the majority of people in the UK agree with the concept of organ donation but only 34 per cent are on the organ donor register. With nearly 7,000 people in the UK in need of a transplant at any one time, the shortage of donors is so acute that three people on the waiting list for a transplant die every day.
Sarah knows she is one of the lucky ones. She says: “Since that day my life has returned to normal. I am now employed at Keymer Haslam, a chartered accountants in Burgess Hill, go to Switch Gym in Haywards Heath three times a week, I’m in Burgess Hill Rock Choir and I love going on my cruises, as well as all my work with Live Life Give Life, basically I can go out and about and not be regulated by dialysis sessions, and live a life as any other person would live.
“None of this would be possible if it was not for the family who decided to give someone the ultimate gift – the gift of life. I thank him and his family for giving me life everyday.”
To sign the organ donor register online go to www.organdonation.nhs.uk or phone 0300 123 23 23.