The Press has spearheaded a campaign urging people to save lives through organ donation. MIKE LAYCOCK catches up with people whose stories have moved readers in the past year and urges others to become Lifesavers in 2011.

PENSIONER Bob Shead says none of the presents he received on Christmas Day could match the gift of sight that came six months earlier.

Bob, 73, of Strensall, will go into 2011 seeing clearly again, following a corneal transplant at York Hospital. Previously, his sight was so blurred that trying to see was like “looking at fog through a dirty windscreen”.

He said: “It’s just wonderful to see again. It’s better than any Christmas present I could have had. I can read again, with a magnifying glass and light, and walk in the city centre without worrying I am going to bump into a scaffolding pole.”

But Dan Skelton, 22, said Christmas passed without him receiving the best possible gift – a kidney transplant to transform his life.

Now, with the latest tests showing his kidney function has fallen to only nine per cent, Dan, formerly of Helmsley but now living in Easingwold, expects to have to start going on dialysis by March, about a year after he first went on the waiting list for a transplant.

Meanwhile, Claire Davies, 35, of Acomb, who once struggled to get out of bed because of hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, which thickens heart muscles, said she had just spent her first normal, healthy Christmas since she underwent a heart transplant operation 16 months ago.

“Last year, I was still recovering and felt like I had been hit by a truck,” she said.

“This year, I was really able to enjoy the day with my family like anyone else.”

Today the trio urged people who have not yet joined the Organ Donor Register to make it their New Year resolution to finally do so. “It could transform my life and many other people who are in my position,” said Dan, whose condition makes him so tired that he sometimes has to sleep in until 3pm.

Their comments were made as The Press’s year-long Lifesavers campaign came to a close, having helped to encourage more than 13,500 people in our region to join the Organ Donor Register – equivalent to 37 a day.

The campaign, launched last December following the tragic death of cystic fibrosis sufferer Emma Young, 22, aimed to raise awareness of organ donation and recruit an extra 20,000 donors in our circulation area.

Joanne Turner, donor transplant co-ordinator at York Hospital, said: “It has been really encouraging to know so may people have joined the register.”

She said a record number of 3,706 transplants were carried out in the UK last year, although the number of patients needing one continued to increase, with nearly 8,000 patients currently waiting.

She said: “This shows that promoting the importance of organ donation must not stop.”

• To join the Organ Donor Register, go online at, phone the 24-hour donor line on 0300 1232323 or text SAVE to 84118.