FAMILIES in Oxfordshire are being urged to share their organ donation decision this festive season to help those fearing this Christmas could be their last.

There are currently 37 people in the county on the waiting list for a transplant. They join more than 6,000 people across the UK, including 185 children.

Among them is Helen Roper, from Oxford, who has cystic fibrosis and has been waiting two and a half years for a lung transplant.

Herald Series:

Helen Roper in hospital.

The 39-year-old said: “When you first go on the transplant list, it is an extremely scary time. You have essentially been told that they have run out of options for you, and that your only chance of having a future is by receiving a transplant."

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She said it was 'difficult to process' that in the next few years 'you’re either going to die, or you’re going to receive a transplant'. Ms Roper added she must keep her phone with her at all times and make sure she is always within a certain drive of the hospital, explaining: “I try not to think about it too much as it will drive you mad, but there are certain times when I always think about it - every night when I go to bed, I make sure my phone isn’t on silent and I think maybe tonight is the night."

Her condition means she is left out of breath by everyday tasks like brushing her teeth, saying: “Christmas and New Year always makes me reflective and makes me think about the future and the possibility of getting a transplant in the next year or if it will be the last Christmas I see.

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"I dream of having the energy to stay awake through a whole day instead of scheduling in rest breaks. Being able to breath on my own, rather than relying on a machine to do it for me."

She added: “I obviously hope to get a transplant in 2020, but realistically know that due to the shortage of organs, that this very well might not happen."

Herald Series:

Helen Roper.

Anthony Clarkson, Director of Organ Donation and Transplantation at NHS Blood and Transplant, said they were urging everyone in the county to take a moment to think about organ donation, adding: "Every precious organ donor allows more families to spend special times together. A quick chat can save lives."

From 2020 the law is changing so organ donation becomes the default and people will instead need to 'opt out'.

Visit organdonation.nhs.uk.