Defiant dad vows never to lose hope

A father-of-one who was given five years to live - five years ago - has thrown his full support behind the Government's pledge to make organ donation an opt-out system rather than opt-in.
Dave with son GeorgeDave with son George
Dave with son George

Dave Hughes, 32, from Whelley, was born with a congenital heart defect and remains on the organ list waiting anxiously for a phone call telling him a new heart has been found.

Agonisingly the family were put through hell in summer when Dave was finally called in for a transplant. He was taken to theatre and put to sleep only to be woken again when information came to light revealing that the heart was unsafe to use.

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There are thousands of people like David waiting for new organs but now that could all change if plans to change the system in England to a presumption in favour of consent for organ donation finally become law.

Dave said: “This is a real step forward. Scotland and Wales have already gone in the same direction, it cuts waiting times by quite a bit.

“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.”

Throughout his life, Dave has suffered a number of massive setbacks. Aged just 27, he was told that he had five years to live without a heart transplant.

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He has suffered with heart problems since he was born due to a congenital condition known as transposition of the great arteries, which meant his major arteries were the wrong way round.

But he is now desperate to get on with life-saving surgery so he can see his young son grow up.

Dave said: “I try not to let it bother me, If I sit and worry about it, that phone’s not going to ring any quicker. Every six weeks or so I do get down about it, but I don’t have much time to think now I have George.

“After spending that many nights in hospital and you see other people, it just gave me a bigger urge to do the best that I can for my family and for the surgeons. I have to give myself the best chance to get through it, there’s no time not to.

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“If my son goes to bed then I’m going, I don’t want to waste any energy, I have to use that time to recharge my batteries.”

His partner Louise lives daily with the fear she could lose David and George may have to grow up without his father.

Louise said: “Seeing Dave getting weaker is heartbreaking and me and George wish every day that he would get the call about a new heart.

“We hope that they do go ahead and make it opt out as a lot more people will be aware of organ donation and hopefully stay on the list then go on to have the talk with their loved ones so they can follow their wishes once they have passed away.

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The family have taken part in several campaigns to try and increase the number of people opting to donate their organs. On his first birthday the family attached a picture of his baby scan to his first birthday balloon as well as a note which read: My name is George and my daddy needs a new heart.

“Please if you find my birthday balloon consider signing up to be an organ donor.

“I want my daddy to be here for my next birthday.”

The Government’s plans have been backed by the British Medical Association, which published a statement saying: “BMA has long advocated a ‘soft’ opt-out system with safeguards for organ donation and continues to believe this is the best option for the UK to reduce the shortage of organs.”

But supporters of the scheme stress that anyone who does not want to donate their organs will be able to register their objection to it in advance and the family will still have a final say.

To register for organ donation visit or ring 0300 123 23 23.