Eighth day of Christmas – good company for a New Year…

The countdown.  The clock ticked past midnight, and a new page began for a new year.

Whatever resolutions we make, or don’t, and whatever it says on our calendars, it’s all still to be written, page by page.  Whatever comes, and whatever we bring to it, we hope for good reasons to celebrate, good people to share it with, and good support to help us hold it all together.

The blogs over these twelve days are each about some of those good people we find through the organ transplant experiences.  And there are so many.

For most of us, our introduction to the concerns that may lead to organ transplants is not a gentle opportunity to dip a toe in a warm sea by a sunny beach but more like being thrown headlong into the shocking cold of a grey winter’s crashing waves.  Unlike the voluntary choice of a cold water swimmer, it’s unwanted and unwelcomed.  And it’s not long before the questions start to come ashore, as relentless as the waves.

The good news is that there are lots of people who can support, accompany, listen carefully, and then provide, or help find, the information that could be most useful.  (Google is not usually the best place to start.)

Because Live Loudly Donate Proudly grew from experiences with liver failure and liver transplants, that’s the path we know best, but there are many groups and organisations that have grown from or focus on issues and illnesses from all aspects of organ failure and transplants.  Many of these have been started by individuals or families deeply affected themselves, determined to offer as much support as they can to others in similar circumstances.  Like the ‘yes’ of consent to organ donation in the pain of the death of a loved one, there are countless people turning their own stories of shock and struggle, healing or not, into resources for others.

And like other stories in these twelve blogs for Christmas, their work goes on all year round.  You may come across them anytime, in the local papers or on social media, in the office, the supermarket, on the bus – anywhere, doing any of the following:

  • Fundraising to provide accurate information and resources, or to support families and individuals through the financial hardship that can often accompany sudden or prolonged illness
  • Looking for support to continue programmes for children, young people, parents, families, bringing them together to listen to and talk about the million and one different issues that come with transplantation, and the illnesses that may lead to it. And to have fun, ‘be normal’ with others who understand and don’t need explanations
  • Adding extra non-medical resources in hospitals for patients and for their families, making their stay as supportive as possible
  • Providing extra equipment, or training opportunities for medical staff, creating spaces for shared learning ‘outside the structure’
  • Telling stories of others, making experiences less isolating, less frightening
  • Bringing people together for coffee in public places, providing support for some and information for others
  • And the list goes on…

Somewhere out there, in this new year and all through it, hidden in plain sight, are thousands and thousands of people giving their time, mental energy and ingenuity to making the place a little easier for someone else caught in these waves.  If you are one of them, thank you.  Thank you.  And thank you again.  If not, keep an eye out, an ear open, for this incredible dynamic of goodwill.  So much to be proud of. Whether we need its direct support or not, it is a good thing to start a new year knowing the uncertainty of the coming calendar is already sown with the seeds of kindness…


Some helpful friends:

Children’s Liver Disease Foundation

Kidney Care UK

The British Heart Foundation

NHS Blood and Transplant

Organ Donation N Ireland

Live Life Give Life

Altnagelvin Parents Support Group (Facebook)

RVH Liver Support Group (N Ireland)