Portsmouth father urges more people to sign up to be organ donors

SIGN UP Nessan Runghen, 41, from Copnor who had a heart transplant 20 years ago which saved his life. He is urging people to carry a donor card so they can save another after their death. Picture: Steve Reid (121542-739)
SIGN UP Nessan Runghen, 41, from Copnor who had a heart transplant 20 years ago which saved his life. He is urging people to carry a donor card so they can save another after their death. Picture: Steve Reid (121542-739)
Paul Dodd, station manager of Radio Haslar Picture: David George

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AT ONE time brave Nessen Runghen never thought he would be able to lead a normal life.

He was born with a heart defect which gradually got worse in his teens.

Then one day he collapsed – which led to him being hospitalised for nine months.

And it was during that time doctors realised he needed a new heart.

Now 20 years after he underwent a heart transplant Mr Runghen, 41, is praising the mystery donor who saved his life.

And he is encouraging others to sign up to the donor register and save a life. Yesterday was the end of National Transplant Week, which raises awareness of organ donation.

Mr Runghen, of Devon Road, Copnor, said: ‘Before I had my operation I could hardly walk and I couldn’t go five steps without being out of breath.

‘The doctors told me I would die if they couldn’t find a donor.

‘It was an incredibly tough time in my life.

‘Twenty years ago I never thought I would live for another 20 years.

‘If someone told me at the time that I would one day get a job, have my 15-year-old son Joseph and go on holiday I wouldn’t have believed them.

‘There’s such a shortage of donors and I would really encourage people to sign up. I can’t thank my donor enough.’

Mr Runghen, who grew up in Mauritius, added: ‘I felt better straightaway after the operation and I decided to pursue a career in the motor industry.’

Mr Runghen, 41, who is now a self-employed car dealer, said he doesn’t believe there is enough awareness of how people can become donors.

An NHS Blood and Transplant spokeswoman said: ‘It’s heart-warming to hear stories such as this where transplant recipients are still doing well 20 years post transplant.

‘It’s great to see them encouraging others to make a pledge to donate their organs.

‘More than 60,000 people in Portsmouth have signed the register but we still need more.’

To sign up visit organdonation.nhs.uk