TRANSPLANT patients and relatives of organ donors held a special ceremony in Huddersfield.
Thirty people gathered in St George’s Square at midday yesterday to release balloons into the air to remember those who made life-saving donations.
The event was organised to mark National Transplant Week.
Marlene Coates, 67, took part in the balloon release.
The Flockton woman’s life was turned around when she received a new kidney in 2005.
Mrs Coates suffered from the inherited condition polycystic kidney disease.
“I was on dialysis for two-and-a-half years. It restricts your diet and your movements,” she said.
“Having a transplant has made a tremendous difference to my life. I’m pretty much back to 100% now, I can do almost anything, I can go walking or do the gardening.”
Mrs Coates had the transplant at St James’s Hospital in Leeds six years ago.
“All I know about my donor is that he was man from Newcastle,” she said.
“I’ve written to his family twice through the organ donation co-ordinator to thank them.
“I feel so grateful to that man for the wonderful thing he did for me. I don’t think you can ever express enough thanks for the gift you’ve been given.”
Mrs Coates and her husband David, 73, took part in yesterday’s balloon launch as part of National Transplant Week.
The couple want to keep the issue of organ donation in the public eye.
Mrs Coates said: “We want to make people aware of what a wonderful gift organ donation is.”
Families of those who donated organs were also at yesterday’s event.
Sharon Kilroy, 43, attended the balloon launch in memory of her son James, who took his life last year aged 18.
The Halifax woman said: “This is an emotional day but it’s lovely when you see people who’ve benefited from organ donations.
“James was on the organ donor list and all my family are on it. It’s something we feel strongly about.”
Yesterday’s balloon launch was organised by Calderdale and Huddersfield NHS Foundation Trust.
Specialist nurse Rachel Wiseman urged everyone to sign up as an organ donor.
She said: “We’ve got 10,000 people in the UK who are waiting for a transplant. Three of them die every day because there aren’t enough organs.”
Ms Wiseman added: “Today is also about remembering donors’ families and the donors themselves. Without their generosity people like Marlene wouldn’t have survived.”
To sign up to the organ donor register visit www.cht.nhs.uk.