Thursday, 27 October 2011

How can you help ?

Here we have an article about Bobby Singh, published by the Evening Times.

A RESTAURATEUR who almost died after buying a kidney transplant abroad has backed the Evening Times’ campaign to launch an ‘opt out’ system of organ donation in Scotland.

Bobby Singh, 46, from Glasgow, believes an opt-out policy – where the default position is that everyone is a donor – would vastly increase his chances of receiving the life-saving kidney transplant he needs.

The father-of-three made the “desperate” decision to pay £22,000 for a transplant in Pakistan in 2005 after being on the register for five years.

However, he became gravely ill during his flight back to Glasgow. Doctors found the new organ was dying and removed it.

Remarkably, despite almost losing his life, Mr Singh admits he has again considered buying another kidney because he is still waiting for a transplant seven years on.

His situation has been made worse because of an acute shortage of registered kidney donors from the Asian community. People from black and ethnic minorities wait, on average, twice as long as others on the list. He knows of another Asian man who has been waiting 25 years.

Mr Singh said: “It’s very hard. How long can a person stay positive? I am thinking about going abroad again and I know I might not come out of it alive.

I have contemplated suicide, I am on anti-depressants. For me to get a transplant would be a total change of life.

I would feel the same as the Scottish couple who won £161million on the Lottery. Better in fact.

Around 90% of patients on the transplant list across the UK are waiting for a kidney.

The restaurateur was a healthy and fit father-of-three, working long hours in the family business, Mr Singh’s India, when he began to feel unwell during a Scotland match at Hampden Park in November 2004.

His condition deteriorated and his brother, Satty, took him to Glasgow Royal Infirmary, where blood samples were taken.

Until then, the keen footballer jokes he had never spent any time in hospital apart from the day he was born. A nurse told him both kidneys had shut down. He was put straight on to dialysis, a process that continues to this day.

Dialysis cleans waste products from the blood when the kidneys fail. Without it, all patients with kidney failure would die from the build-up of toxins in the bloodstream.

However, it requires Mr Singh to be in the New Victoria Hospital three times a week for five hours at a time.

He said: “You don’t live a normal life. I used to be quite hands-on in the business, but I have not got the energy to do much now.

I used to enjoy going out and having a beer, but I am allowed only a tumbler of liquid a day, otherwise it will put pressure on my kidneys.

I can’t go on holiday with my family, only day trips.

Mr Singh is backing our campaign to persuade the Scottish Government to introduce an opt-out policy on organ donation, where people could still easily opt-out or giving organs and relatives would still be consulted.

Supporters argue there would be substantial economic benefits for the NHS, as well as the potential to save thousands more lives.

Mr Singh said: “It costs about £1100 a week to keep me alive – Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, including the expensive drugs I take, and the injections when on dialysis.

Some people do eight hours a day.

People are dying waiting for a transplant. Many organs are going to waste.

I think Scotland could do it alone. If we go for opt out, the public do not have to do anything apart from tell their loved ones.

I understand most people are scared of death and talking about it. I would be scared of dying too if I was healthy.

Mr Singh visits mosques around the city to help raise awareness about organ donation amongst the Asian population, which has a very low uptake on the national register.

Last year his restaurant hosted the launch of Scotland’s first Kidney Research UK kidney disease awareness scheme.

The peer-educator’ initiative targets sections of the population, including communities where close family members have been diagnosed with kidney disease, and ethnic communities, like his Asian community, where there is a prevalence of high blood pressure and diabetes.

Dr Neerja Jain, of Kidney Research UK, said: “Asians are up to five times more likely to get kidney failure than the white community, but they are much less likely to get a transplant. The number of people within ethnic minorities who carry donor cards is also significantly lower.

Generally, people in the black and ethnic community are waiting almost twice as long for transplant, if at all.

People within the south Asian population also have a disproportionately high rate of diabetes and high blood pressure.

An Asian person on dialysis is 10 times more likely to get kidney failure than someone from the white community. We don’t really know why.”


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