A former Catholic schoolgirl, who says a lung transplant is her “only option”, is urging the public to support and consider organ donation.
Laura Beattie, 29, from Stretford, Greater Manchester, is one of 354 people in Britain waiting for a lung transplant – a list that the NHS warned is growing and growing each year.
Her call comes as latest figures show the number of people waiting for a lung transplant has risen by 46 per cent over the past five years.
Ms Beattie has cystic fibrosis and was added to the transplant waiting list just over a month ago. Her lung function has declined in the last couple of years and is now at around 24 per cent.
The former pupil of Loreto Grammar School, in Altrincham, now uses oxygen in daily life and also a wheelchair at times when she goes out for more than a few hours. She also requires non-invasive ventilation – airway support administered through a nasal mask – overnight.
Ms Beattie recently set up a fashion business, called Careaux, with her sister, Rachel Beattie, 23, which originally began as an idea Rachel had at the age of 14, during her time at Loreto Grammar School.
However, despite having the support and love of her family and friends, Ms Beattie admits that she is “terrified” at being one of the growing numbers of people waiting for a lung transplant.
“I’ve known for more than 20 years that I would need a transplant one day but I was still terrified to be told I was going on the list because it made it real,” Ms Beattie said.
“But I know it’s the right thing to do. I get breathless even turning over in bed or getting dressed.
“I could be waiting a short time or a long time, I don’t know. I just try and get on with my life.
“I really hope more people support and really consider donation because a transplant is my only option now and donation can save so many lives,” Ms Beattie added.
Her call comes as NHS Blood and Transplant warned that there are now 354 people on the lung transplant waiting list compared with 242 five years ago. In comparison, the overall waiting list for all organs has declined over the same period by 17 per cent – down from 7,335 to 6,013.
NHS Blood and Transplant recently marked Organ Donation Week, which ran from Monday 3rd to Sunday 9th September, by calling on people to urgently talk to their families about organ donation because a lung transplant is the only long-term hope for everyone on the waiting list.
It said the ageing population, and improvements in trauma care and public safety, are likely to be contributing to the rise in the lung transplant waiting list, by changing the profile of donors.
Today’s organ donors are mostly over the age of 50 and more likely to have existing health problems. This can make the successful donation and transplantation of more delicate organs such as the heart and lungs less likely.
Another factor is thought to be an increased awareness of the benefits of lung transplants, leading to an increased number of referrals.
But it said family refusal remains the biggest barrier to all forms of organ donation and transplantation.
Although more people are supporting donation than ever, one-in-three families still decline to donate.
Around 17 per cent of people listed for a lung transplant have died a year later.
Picture: Laura pictured with her sister Rachel. Laura, who suffers from cystic fibrosis and is on the waiting list for a heart and lung transplant, has called on the public to consider organ donation as the number waiting for a lung transplant rises. (NHS Blood and Transplant/PA).