BT Murrayfield Stadium goes green for Organ Donation Week
BT Murrayfield Stadium – the home of Scottish Rugby – has been illuminated in green in support of Organ Donation Week (02 – 08 September 2019).
The stadium is one of a number of buildings and landmarks which have been bathed in the Organ Donation Scotland campaign colour to mark the week, including the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital, The Kelpies and the University of Abertay.
Roger Marr, from Prestonpans, who received a life-saving heart transplant in February 2018, visited the illuminated stadium as he encouraged people to talk about their organ donation decision saying he’s ‘proof’ of how it saves lives.
The 47-year old became critically ill after a viral infection caused his heart to fail, leading him to fear he wouldn’t be around for the birth of his first child. However thanks to his donor and their family, the transplant went ahead in February 2018, two months after he was placed on the waiting list, and he welcomed son Rocco into the world just four months later.
During Organ Donation Week, people are being encouraged to think about their organ and tissue donation decision and make it known. From Autumn 2020, the law around organ and tissue donation is changing in Scotland, meaning that if people have not confirmed whether they want to be an organ donor, it may be assumed they’re willing to donate when they die. People have a choice, and they can record their decision on the NHS Organ Donor Register at any time.
Roger was diagnosed after going A&E at the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh worried about pains in his stomach, arms and legs and breathlessness that wouldn’t go away. He was told he had a heart irregularity and admitted for tests, but after going into anaphylactic shock, he was put in an induced coma and transferred to the Golden Jubilee National Hospital as his heart was failing.
“I was told that I needed a transplant to survive. It felt like I was in a bad dream and waiting to wake up. I spent half the time just looking out the window thinking ‘this can’t be happening to me’.
“My wife, Caroline, was heavily pregnant with my son at the time and I had started to resign myself to the fact I was probably never going to see him be born so I was trying to allow that to sink in as well.
“The staff at the hospital were absolutely unbelievable throughout it all. I tried not to tell Caroline everything the doctors were telling me because I didn’t want to add to her stress, so when I was alone at nights I’d often break down. The nurses would sit with me and chat things through and it really helped me to deal with it all because I was putting such a brave face on during the day for Caroline’s sake.
“When I woke up after the transplant surgery, I was in disbelief that I finally had a working heart. I still felt slightly weak but instantly knew I was better. I suddenly felt so thankful to be alive and for the second chance I’d been given at life. I had seen people on my ward walking a few days after they’d had their transplants and seeing them made me determined to do the same.
“Eighteen months on I’m now training in the gym daily and I’ve even moved on to upper body weight training. I feel absolutely brilliant.”
Speaking about his donor and the family that made everything possible, Roger said:
“It’s hard to find the words to explain what they’ve done for me. They’ve given me a second chance at life with Caroline and Rocco. Every day when I look at my son I imagine the pain and suffering they must have been going through when they made the decision to let me have their loved one’s heart. I’m so blessed and thankful for the gift of life they’ve given me. I don’t think any words I find could ever repay them.
“I also think the move to the opt-out system for organ donation is going to be great. If it means more organs will be available for people who need them then why not have it.
“Before I needed my transplant I wasn’t really aware of the benefits of organ donation or how important it is but I’m literally walking proof that it works and can transform people’s lives.
“My biggest hope is that I’ll get to watch my son grow up. I can’t wait for Caroline and I to guide him through life and teach him right from wrong.
“I’m so grateful I’m healthy enough to be part of his life after thinking I wouldn’t even get to meet him. I just want to do the best I can for him.”
There are over 550 people in Scotland currently waiting on a transplant. One donor can transform the lives of up to nine people. People can find out more about the opt out system of organ and tissue donation, and their choices at organdonationscotland.org