A Wigan pensioner whose life has twice been saved by organ swap surgery is heading to Westminster to meet MPs and boost awareness of transplantation.
Keith Pennington will be London-bound with Kidney Care UK as he spearheads promotion of the annual Organ Donation Week which begins on Monday.
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The 70-year-old was diagnosed with kidney disease in 1989 at the age of 42.
He underwent his first transplant in 1992 and then a second just four years ago in 2013.
He helped set up the Hope Kidney Patients Association and is currently the chairman of the group.
Keith said: “I feel passionately that more needs to be done to raise awareness of kidney disease and organ donation.
“It’s great to be able to help support other people who are going through what I have been through but we need to get out there and raise awareness with the general public.
“Hopefully you won’t need to have a transplant but if you do then you will probably have to wait years – if more people sign the organ donor register and tell their families what they want to do with their organs so many more lives could be saved.
“Please, this Organ Donation Week, tell your family you want to save lives.”
Keith’s impassioned message was backed by figures which show that there are currently seven borough residents awaiting a kidney transplant.
Fiona Loud, policy director of Kidney Care UK, said: “We’d like to urge readers to take a few minutes this Organ Donation Week to have a lifesaving talk with your family about your wishes when it comes to organ donation.
“Hundreds of transplants are missed every year because families simply didn’t know what their relative wanted.
“Many people don’t realise that if you want to be an organ donor, your family’s support is still needed for donation to go ahead, even if you are on the NHS Organ Donor Register.
“Families who agree to donate have told us that it helps with their grief and that they feel an enormous sense of pride at knowing their relative gave others the chance of a new beginning.”
In the UK every year, around 1,000 people also make a living donation of a kidney to a friend or family member, or to someone they have never even met.
To sign the organ donor register or find out about living donation visit www.organdonation.nhs.uk/