A Pinner woman has highlighted the importance of organ donation after her own life was saved by a donor as a child.
She shares her story on the first anniversary (May 20) of the opt-out system of organ donation in England where presumed consent is given for organ donation unless the person had opted out.
Emma Hilton was originally rushed to Northwick Park Hospital as a 12-year-old suffering from an abnormally high heart rate.
Emma, 31, said: “I walked into A&E with my mother and five hours later received the last rites after I went into cardiac arrest after being diagnosed with an enlarged heart.
“They managed to restart it but I was so ill that a police car escorted my ambulance to Great Ormond Street Hospital where I was placed on life support for nine days in the hope my heart would recover.”
It didn’t but Emma was lucky enough to receive a replacement heart the same day after being placed on the top of the transplant list.
Emma’s recovery was slow but she went on to complete her education and later compete in the British and World Transplant Games.
She added: “I’m here because a family I have never met made the decision to give me a future by agreeing to organ donation at the most horrendous time in their lives.”
“I am pleased the opt-out law is in place. It is a great way of promoting organ donation and it gives people the opportunity to have the conversation, because unless it effects you directly, it may not be discussed.
“It is really important that families are aware of each other’s wishes, because if something happens, it removes that uncertainty. There is also a lack of organs available for transplant and it allows more patients to be given another chance at life.”
Emma says she will be forever indebted to Northwick Park and Great Ormond Street and believes ‘if people could see how amazing the gift of life is it may encourage them to make that decision.’
“As the years go by I still tear up thinking of how my donor and their family have allowed me to live. No amount of thanks will ever show my gratitude. I strive to live every day in honour of them, as without them I wouldn’t be here so here’s to my donor, my hero.”
Emma celebrates her 19th heart transplant anniversary this month.