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Chloe's Christmas wishes are granted

Chloe Smith can’t wait for Christmas after receiving a kidney this year, but thousands are still waiting this festive season

18 December 2019

For many, the gift of an organ can make Christmas feel extra special. The chance to share special moments with friends and family and even just be at home during this festive season is something that will be treasured by those that have received an organ donation this year.

A Christmas to look forward to

Four-year-old Chloe Smith from Langley, Berkshire, waited almost three years for a kidney transplant after a Wilms' tumour meant both her kidneys needed removing. This year she received a living donation from a relative which has transformed her life.

Mum, Laura Peart, aged 38, says: “It impacted our whole lives. Chloe was only one when she started dialysis and it meant travelling to hospital in London four days a week, and eventually she had dialysis at home five days a week.

“Chloe was often ill and very fatigued, she couldn’t eat and had little or no energy, so we struggled to have days out as a family and her health was a severe and constant worry to myself, Chloe’s father and her older brother. As sad as it sounds, we had very little normal family life.”

Before the transplant Christmas was always a challenge for Chloe and her family, with Chloe needing treatment on Christmas Eve and Boxing Day and often feeling too tired and sick to show any interest in the festivities.

The decision, by Laura's cousin, to donate one of her kidneys has proved a lifeline for the whole family.

“All our lives have been completely transformed. There isn’t the right amount of words available to convey how grateful we are to my amazing cousin and to the NHS. To see Chloe now is utterly amazing, her true personality has shone through. She is a little girl again and has become more independent and has such an interest in enjoying life.

We have our daughter back and my son has his sister. We are so grateful. My cousin gave my daughter a kidney but in doing so she also mended my broken heart.
Laura, Chloe's mum

“This is the first year Chloe has really paid attention to Christmas. She is looking forward to being with family, meeting Father Christmas for the first time and as well as the presents, hopefully getting a hamster for being so brave.

Many are still waiting this Christmas

There are still over 6000 people (1) waiting for a call this Christmas, hoping that the gift of an organ will be coming their way over the festive period.

Sophie Schofield, aged 39, from Leeds, has had kidney problems since she was a child. She has been waiting eight years for a fourth kidney, after three transplants failed.

The mum of two says; “It’s really hard waiting, it feels like my life is on hold, constantly waiting for The Call so my life could start again.

“Christmas is a very special time, it’s all about the family getting together - laughing, eating, playing games. I’ve had several Christmasses when I was poorly, one year I was discharged at 6am but was back in hospital Christmas night. All I could think of was my kids, it was heartbreaking.

“Just being able to be at home for Christmas is amazing, staff at the hospital make sure we don’t have to go on Christmas Day. I can’t help the thought in the back of my mind, imagine if I got THE CALL on Christmas Day! A real Christmas miracle.”

Laura Beattie, aged 31, from Stretford, has cystic fibrosis. She has been waiting for a lung transplant since August 2018.

She says: “It is a very scary experience and some days I am glad to be on the list and know that I need a transplant but on some days I am more scared and apprehensive as it is a life-changing procedure and event and you never know when you will get that call.

“I had mixed emotions last Christmas as there was more going on, when you’re not feeling well it impacts not only physically but mentally as well. It was quite hard as I was thinking about the stuff I couldn’t do and not knowing if I was going to get a call or not. 

“This Christmas I will be looking at the year ahead and thinking about how I can keep myself stable and strong enough for having a transplant and the recovery afterwards. It will give me time to focus and prepare myself for if I get the call.  

“I absolutely love watching Christmas films and Harry Potter, having Christmas food and spending time with my dogs, friends and family.”

Did you know?

From spring 2020 in England and autumn 2020 in Scotland, the law around organ donation is changing. All adults will be considered as having agreed to donate their own organs when they die unless they record a decision not to donate, known as ‘opt out’, or are in one of the groups not covered by the new organ donation law.

Families will still always be involved in organ donation, so it is vital that they know your choice. Make sure you register your decision and share your organ donation wishes with your family.

 

Notes

(1) Active transplant waiting list as at 21 November 2019