A Wigan widow whose husband died following a heart transplant, is urging people to share their wishes about organ donation during a national campaign.
To mark Organ Donation Week Louise Hughes, from Whelley, is celebrating the life of her husband Dave Hughes who died in May last year, 11 weeks after his surgery.
Along with her mum Kath Sedgwick, she spent the day in the Grand Arcade signing people onto the organ donor register and talked about the importance of sharing donation wishes with loved ones.
Dave was only 32 when his life support machine was switched off hours after he said goodbye to his wife and their then 19-month-old son George.
He was born with a congenital heart defect meaning that his main arteries were the wrong way round.
Five years before his death, he was told that he would have no chance of surviving without a heart transplant.
But Dave gained renewed strength when he met his future wife Louise in a Wigan pub in 2012. The couple went on to have George, who became the his dad’s drive for recovery.
During his agonising wait for a new heart, the brave family suffered numerous setbacks and were forced to spend time apart as Dave would often endure stays in the hospital.
On one occasion, they received the call and rushed up to Newcastle with Dave to see him into surgery only to be told that the operation was to be cancelled once he had gone into theatre.
But despite this, the inspirational couple did not give up and used Dave’s story to highlight a serious lack of organs within the NHS pool.
In February 2018, as his health deteriorated, Dave finally received the call to say that a suitable heart had become available.
He rushed to Newcastle, where he underwent a gruelling 12-hour operation.
Following his transplant the couple got married in a small, intimate ceremony held within the hospital walls.
While Dave struggled to regain his health, Louise campaigned long and hard, signing people up to the donor register.
Before the operation, Dave himself spoke out saying: “I believe that everybody has their own choice and everybody has their own fortune.
“But if it was someone in your family or someone close to you, there wouldn’t be many people who would opt out. If someone said to me, your last day on this earth would be to save up to eight lives I would jump at the chance.”
Louise said:“I’m really grateful to Dave’s donor for giving me and George 11 extra weeks with him that we wouldn’t have otherwise had and would urge anyone to sign the donor register and share the gift of life. Organ Donation Week really puts the issue back in the public eye.
“We signed dozens of people up in Wigan so it’s great to see how many people know how important it is.
“The most vital thing as well is that people share their wishes so that their family know they want to save lives after they have gone.
“It’s not great to think about what will happen when you die, but you could save up to nine lives and nine families like mine and Dave’s.”