Signing up is a way to give the gift of life to others

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Still looking to make a new year resolution? Well, we have a suggestion. It’s simple to do, won’t cost a penny and can mean the world to somebody else.

What are we talking about? Signing the organ donor register and carrying an organ donor card that could save someone’s life.

January is Love Your Liver month, a health awareness campaign run by the British Liver Trust. And on pages 8 and 9 today, the importance of organ donation is brought home through the words of Julie Maguire.

When she was just 13, Julie was at death’s door, suffering from a rare liver disorder. But her life changed dramatically 18 years ago when she had a liver transplant. Without it, she would not be here.

The 31-year-old says: ‘It’s amazing to think that 18 years ago today I was given the gift of life. I always celebrate my liver birthday. The transplant absolutely saved my life – I literally had about a week to live.’

As well as highlighting the importance of organ donation, Julie also wants to tackle the misconception that liver patients need help because of excess alcohol consumption.

In her case, illness was certainly not self-inflicted. At just 18 months old, Julie was diagnosed with a rare condition called cryptogenic cirrhosis. For an unknown reason, the condition causes tumours on the liver, the stomach to swell, and Julie also suffered from jaundice.

She says simply: ‘I was born with this condition and there was nothing I could do about it.’

Sadly for her and parents Maggie and Peter Maguire, Julie’s older sister Joanne had suffered from the same condition and died aged seven.

But today Julie is living proof of the enormous value of organ donation.

As she celebrates 18 years since a transplant meant her life changed for the better, no doubt she will think of the person who allowed that to happen – a 17-year-old girl who had tragically died in a road traffic accident.

None of us wants to think of the worst happening. But organ donation can enable others to live. Please think about signing up. Go to organdonation.nhs.uk.