An Ayr woman is fronting a new nationwide campaign to encourage Scots to sign up to the NHS Organ Donor Register.
The TV and radio campaign features the latest figures, which show that over 40 per cent of Scots have now joined the NHS Organ Donor Register– the highest percentage in the UK.
Now heart transplant patient Samantha Bell, a former pupil of Belmont Academy, wants to get people talking about organ donation, to make their wishes known to their loved ones and to join the register.
The 29-year-old was diagnosed with severe cardiomyopathy seven years ago – a condition normally associated with middle age, and it means her heart could stop at any time.
There was no history of heart disease in her family, or previous signs of it affecting her and doctors fited a mini defibrillator inside her chest to bring her back to life if her heart stopped working.
But last spring Sam’s heart condition worsened.
The bank worker was admitted to hospital as her health deteriorated to a near-critical level.
And after several weeks of being kept alive by a pump, she finally received the news – a donor heart had been found for her.
Sam explained: “Things took a turn for the worse between March and May, and I wasn’t feeling very well in the middle of May.
“I phoned my doctor who asked me to pop into the clinic and I didn’t go home until after I got the transplant, eight-and-a-half weeks later.
“I was just desperate to get the right organ to come along and get my life back to the way I wanted it to be.
“I couldn’t even get out of bed. For eight-and-a-half weeks I was bed-bound, I couldn’t get up.
“ I was like an older person.
“Everyone who looked after me was incredible.
“I had the operation on the Thursday and was on my feet by the Monday afternoon, and needed some physiotherapy to help me when I got out of bed.
“It was nice having my feet back on the floor after all that, and using my muscles again.
Having had the operation, Sam is now continuing her recovery,
“When you get an organ that you weren’t born with, your body will naturally try to reject it, so you have to take anti-rejection drugs for life.
“I’m on two lots just now, and have five or six different kinds of medication, which is nothing in comparison to the fact I was on over 30 after the transplant.
“It all becomes part of your daily routine.”
Having had a lifesaving heart transplant, Sam knows the importance of the NHS Organ Donor Register.
And now she is backing the drive for more Scots to talk about organ donation with their loved ones and to join the register.
Sam said: “I know I’ll get back to full fitness again and I have my donor to thank for that.
“They gave me the gift of life and I can’t thank their family enough.”
More than 600 people in Scotland are still waiting for a life-saving transplant.
Join the NHS Organ Donor Register by visiting www.organdonationscotland.org or by texting LIFE TO 61611.