15 May 2019

A special service to remember and give thanks to organ donors is to take place this Sunday. 

The ‘East Anglian Regional Transplant Service of Remembrance and Thanksgiving’ is being held at Ely Cathedral on Sunday 19 May at 1400. 

Staff from Royal Papworth Hospital’s transplant team are due to attend, along with patient Michelle Hemmings who will light a candle as part of the service. 

Michelle received a single lung transplant at Royal Papworth last February as part of the record-breaking 'Famous Five'.

“I was diagnosed with pulmonary fibrosis in my lungs when I was 24,” she recalled, “which is scarring and stiffening of the lungs. Over the years it became harder and harder to breathe until the point when I needed a transplant.

“After two unsuccessful matches and 13 months on the waiting list I had a call to say there was a lung matched to me, so I headed to Royal Papworth.

“Now, aged 47, I can do the simplest things, like breathe without the need for oxygen and walk up the stairs without getting breathless.   

“I simply would not be here without my donor. I want to tell my story and raise awareness in all communities about the importance of organ donation. You could save up to nine lives. At least think about it. Discuss it with your families.” 

Sadie von Joel, Transplant Co-ordinator at Royal Papworth, said: “This event is so important to remember those who have given the ultimate gift – that is the gift of life – to people who they don’t even know.

“We see patients every day whose lives are transformed by transplants, but we need to remember that it is only made possible by the altruism of someone else.” 

Credit for photos: James Billings and Timothy Selvage, with thanks to Ely Cathedral.