A Coleraine transplant recipient met Edinburgh Inspiring Capital crew members and transplant ambassadors taking part in the Clipper 11-12 Round the World Yacht Race last week.
Crew members Justine Laymond and Nick Barclay were greeted by local woman Bernadette Reid on board the Edinburgh Inspiring Capital yacht currently moored in Foyle Marina, Queen’s Quay, to raise awareness of the global shortage of transplant donors.
Nick, a kidney transplant recipient from South Africa, and Justine, a double-lung transplant recipient from Essex – the first ever double-lung recipient to cross the Atlantic - arrived in Londonderry on July 1 after sailing over 3,000 miles from New York as part of the Edinburgh Inspiring Capital crew.
They are two of the team of transplant patients, surgeons and specialist nursing staff – brought together by Professor Steven Wigmore, professor of transplantation surgery and the clinical lead for transplantation at the University of Edinburgh – who are taking the message around the world of how organ donation can transform lives.
Justine said: “It’s incredible to be here in Derry-Londonderry. Every year that I’m alive, I set myself a goal and taking part in the Clipper 11-12 Round the World Yacht Race is most definitely one of the highlights of my life achievements.
“The race is testing me both mentally and physically, but it’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and I’m loving every minute of it.”
Bernadette, who had a heart and double lung transplant eight years ago, said: “If it wasn’t for organ donation, I wouldn’t be here. I feel so lucky and grateful to have received the treatment I did.
“Since having my operation I have never looked back. The difference my transplant made was amazing and immediate. I’ll be forever grateful to my donor.
“Transplantation is completely dependent on people’s generosity because without donors, there would be no transplants.
“This event is a brilliant idea. I really hope it puts organ donation at the forefront of people’s mind as it’s something everyone should consider.”
British Lung Foundation Development Officer, Nessie Blair, said: “What a wonderful day we all had!
“The crew members were amazing, in particular Justine and Nick the two transplantees. They really were a true inspiration to all of us.
“What a fantastic way to raise the profile of organ donation! Donating an organ really is giving the gift of life. It’s a life changing gesture for not only those who need the organ, but for their friends and families too.”
You can sign up to the register by going to www.organdonation.nhs.uk , calling 0300 123 23 23 or filling out the forms found in a variety of places including libraries and GP surgeries.”