Donor gave Sue new lease of life

Sue Swinson

Sue Swinson

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Pinning Sue Swinson down for a photo-call could have been tricky as we tried to fit an appointment around her hectic lifestyle.

Skiing, walking, gym visits, cycling and bowling sessions all compete for attention in a packed calendar.

But it is worth it to speak to this heart transplant survivor, who is thoroughly enjoying a second chance at life thanks to her organ donor.

Recently retired civil servant Sue (62), from East Dunbartonshire, was diagnosed with heart failure in 2008. As her health deteriorated and her dilated cardiomyopathy worsened Sue was spending more and more time unwell.

She said; ‘‘By the end of 2010 and into 2011 I was in a really bad state. I was in hospital now and then and just before my transplant I spent five weeks in hospital on a Berlin pump.’’

With this mechanical device temporarily taking over the hard work Sue was still in desperate need for a donor.

She said; “I am forever grateful to the person who donated and their family for allowing the donation to go ahead, doubly grateful.

‘‘It completely turned my life around. When I had heart failure in the end stage I could hardly make a cup of tea, now I have an active and full life.’’

Always a keen sportswoman Sue has since regained most of her health and has taken up a number of new sports, including cycling and indoor bowls.

Sue is backing Anne McTaggart MSP’s bill going through the Scottish Parliament which hopes to introduce a system of automatic inclusion onto the organ transplant list.

The Organ Donation and Tissue (Scotland) Bill would mean people who object could still opt out, but it would include many people who have no objections to organ transplant, but who have never actively joined the list.

She said: ‘‘So many people are so busy that signing up to the donor register is something they really must do but quite often don’t get round to. And people sometimes don’t realise that they can choose which organs they can give.’’

She also welcomed the safeguards which will be built in to the system to allow people to opt out.

‘‘It’s very important that everybody has the right to choose,’’ she added.

Recent Scottish Government figures highlight around 90 more lives could be saved each year if family authorisation rates for organ donation increased.

In Scotland, there are currently 540 people waiting on a life-saving transplant.

Although an impressive 41 per cent of Scots are now on the NHS Organ Donor Register, getting more people talking could make a huge difference to those still waiting for that crucial call.