A Wiganer who has represented his country in the Transplant Games is urging people to join the register during Organ Donation Week.
Paul Reynolds, from Goose Green, spoke about giving the ultimate gift of life to someone needing a transplant as part of the Wigan Evening Post’ series of articles this week.
Dad-of-four Paul is also raising awareness of Organ Donation Week by sharing his own story of receiving a kidney from his sister Catherine after being diagnosed with rare condition Rga nephropathy and placing information on social media.
Paul, who has won medals at the British Transplant Games and represented GB at the global version of the event in Argentina, said he would support the opt-out system of organ donation currently used by the NHS in Wales.
However, he stressed that people should not be coerced into joining the register and should make the decision for their organs to be given to someone else themselves.
He said: “I would like people to read the facts and then if they want to go on the organ donor register they should.
“I think people should do it but they shouldn’t be forced into it. It should be everybody’s choice. However, it wouldn’t be a bad idea to have the opt-out system, I think that would help.
“Some people just don’t really think about it. It’s not that they don’t care, it’s just not at the forefront of their thoughts.
“I know I was the same until I had my transplant. Before it happened to me I didn’t know much about it and none of my family were on the register, but now we all are.
“Things like Organ Donation Week will help raise awareness and get the message out there.”
Since receiving the kidney in 2012 Paul has made a remarkable recovery, winning medals in sports including badminton and swimming at the national Transplant Games and joining Liverpool Transplant FC which is about to make its debut in the Merseyside Mixed Ability League.
He says it has made an enormous difference to his life and hopes increasing the number of donors will allow other people to experience similar transformations to their circumstances.
He said: “When I was on dialysis I couldn’t walk up a flight of stairs without having to stop for breath.
“The transplant has given me my life back and so much more besides. Before I wasn’t that sporty but now I’m just doing as many things as I can.
“Not everybody has a good life while they are waiting for a transplant and unfortunately people die every day waiting.”
To find out more ring 0300 123 23 23 or visit www.organdonation.nhs.uk