My Heart is My Life

By Margaret Sheard

Helen Faulds and Colin Richardson
Helen Faulds and Colin Richardson

I met Helen Faulds and Colin Richardson at Al Shaheen in Karakum earlier in the year and Helen told us about her new lease of life with a heart transplant in the UK, now some 3 years ago. Although Helen and Colin had a lovely life in Cyprus, due to Helen having a severe heart problem it was necessary for them to go back to the UK in order to try and find a donor. Helen is passionate about organ donation and at the time we met she said she would like to write an article about this subject.

So we are now publishing Helen’s feelings and this is what she has written:-

My Heart is My Life

By Helen Faulds

QUESTION: Ever wondered about Organ Donation?

ANSWER: Probably not – but perhaps you should!

Organ donation – not an easy topic of conversation or thought, but I urge you to consider it. Please don’t dismiss this article – DO PLEASE READ IT.

Many people say that they don’t like the idea of their organs being used after their death and would not therefore agree to become organ donors.

What use are your organs to you once you are dead – NO USE AT ALL!!!

Did you know that there are currently 5,000 plus patients desperately in need of replacement organs in the U.K. and of those people – sadly 20% will die before a suitable organ becomes available?Broken heart

For every donor who leaves all their transplantable organs, up to 10 patients on the waiting list can be saved? JUST THINK ABOUT THAT FOR ONE MINUTE.

Please don’t make the mistake of saying ‘my organs are no use to anyone, they’re too old or too worn out’ – NOT SO – in most cases they would be highly suitable for transplantation, so stop using that old excuse! Also, don’t try the sentimental line of defence – saying the heart is the centre of emotion, or the eyes are the mirror of the soul – they are only a group of cells doing the job of pumping blood around the body or viewing the world!

I would urge you all to strongly consider becoming an Organ Donor and register your intentions in the U.K. as there is no such scheme in Cyprus. Also, discuss your wish to donate with your immediate family and let them know of your intentions because currently family members can overturn your decision thereby disrespecting your final wishes and the ability to offer ‘the gift of life’ to others.

Of course, the other side of the coin is an obvious one – WHAT IF YOU WERE TO NEED A TRANSPLANT?

I am writing to you on the grounds of ‘BEEN THERE, DONE THAT, GOT THE SCARS’ and believe me, when faced with the choice of ‘life or death’ then the answer’s a simple one.

After a lifetime of cardiac problems, I was faced with this choice in 2010 when I was placed on the Heart Transplant list.

DECISION MADE – I left the beautiful island of Cyprus and the many friends I had made over the years living here, not knowing whether or not I would ever see the island or friends again.

After a wait of seven months in a cold and dreary U.K. ‘the call’ came at 3 am and I was immediately whisked by ambulance to Papworth Hospital in Cambridgeshire where the operation took place at 8 am. After two days in Critical Care and a further twelve days on the general ward, I was discharged with a vast array of medication.

Happily I can report my new life began and once again I became active and healthy. Now, two and a half years post-transplant, I am able once again, to come back and see my many friends in Cyprus and continue a full and active life.

Newspaper cuttingNot a day goes by when I don’t think about my donor and her family to whom I owe my second chance, and I know that her family are aware that somewhere her heart continues beating. I can only hope that knowing this fact gives them some kind of comfort and reassurance.

In the 5 minutes or so that you have taken to read this, I ask you to consider spending the same amount of time considering Organ Donation – and remember – IT COULD HAPPEN TO YOU!

For further information about Organ Donation go to:- www.organdonation.nhs.uk

We felt it would perhaps be a good idea to find out what people in North Cyprus can expect with regard to organ transplants and so went along to a meeting with Dr. Özdemir Berova, former President of the Cyprus Turkish Medical Association, and now a member of Parliament, to see what information he could give.

At the moment transplants are carried out in Turkey, and Dr Özdemir thought there probably is a donor card system but at the end of the day it is for the family to decide. As Helen has said in her article, even in the UK the family can go against the wishes of a deceased person who has elected to donate his/her organs.

Dr Özdemir Berova
Dr Özdemir Berova

In North Cyprus at the present time there are no facilities to carry out organ transplants. This type of operation needs intensive care facilities and currently there is only one facility available which is at the main State Hospital in Lefkoșa.

Dr Özdemir told us that in the 1990’s a law was passed covering the subject of organ transplants, but over the years this became unsuitable and a new law covering transplants has been prepared and has been approved by EU specialists, and Dr Özdemir is going to recommend that this law is now placed before the new Parliament. There will of course be many systems to be introduced and fully qualified surgeons, nursing staff and equipment to be in place and this would be dealt with by a responsible authority. There would need to be a list of patients awaiting organs and it would be imperative that this is adhered to and any organs donated are allocated to the person at the top of the list. Another point to be thought about is the number of people living in North Cyprus compared to say England and with Europe trying to implement one system for transplants how would this work – do you have to be born in the country you are living in? Of course a patient needing for instance a heart, there is no waiting time, it is required immediately. How would North Cyprus fare in this scenario being an embargoed country!

The whole concept of organ donation will be long term, there are two different aspects of organs, those of the living and those of the deceased, and initially the concentration would be on transplants from the living such as kidneys etc. Dr Özdemir told us that at the present time there are over 200 people on dialysis in North Cyprus who are desperately in need of a kidney transplant. He said he would have envisaged another 10 years before there would be any possibility of heart transplants but with the general progress of the country it is highly likely that this period of time could be reduced dramatically. It is felt that when transplants are eventually carried out in North Cyprus it will probably be through 2 hospitals, the State Hospital and possibly the University Hospital.

This is of course a long way down the road but things are going in the right direction and in time to come, as well as surgery which is currently carried out in our hospitals, the medical profession will hopefully be able to deal with transplants here in North Cyprus in future years.