DAD-OF-TWO Paul Kirsop battled back from the brink of death after a rare blood disorder left him needing a double lung transplant.
The 33-year-old spent two years on the waiting list before receiving the news he had been desperately waiting for – that a donor had been found.
Now Paul, who is dad to Jennifer, seven and Emma, six, is calling on Wearsiders to give the gift of life and join the organ donor register.
He said: “The donor is not just saving the life of the patient. It has given my daughters their dad back and my mam and dad their son back.
“It’s the little things, like playing with my daughters or going out with my friends.”
Paul, of Roker, was diagnosed with Bruton type hypo gamma globulineamia at the age of three, which means his immune levels are low and he is unable to fight infections.
As a child, he was fit and healthy, playing for the school football team and was a runner-up in a national badminton competition.
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But then his health took a turn for the worse.
He said: “About six years ago I started to get one infection after another which led to my lungs being scarred and damaged.
“Then four years ago I went to my doctor with yet another chest infection. He looked at the x-ray and turned round and said my only hope was a double lung transplant.
“I was gobsmacked. I expected him to give me some antibiotics and I would be fine in a week or two.”
After spending two years on the waiting list, Paul was given the gift of life from a woman who died of a stroke.
Paul only knows she was called Kim and was 38-years-old, but says her kindness has not only given life to him, but his family and friends.
Now Paul hopes his story will inspire other to sign up as organ donors.
He said: “There’s not enough people on the organ donor register.
“But you don’t have to be on the register to donate.
“It’s about letting your wishes be known. If your family know what you want to do they can let the hospital know.”
Paul says he tries to convince everyone he knows to sign up.
“At the end of the day though, it’s people’s lives. There is only so much you can do,” he adds.
Paul now takes 30 tablets a day in a bid to stop his body rejecting his new lungs and knows transplant patients’ lives are often cut short, but intends to cram in as much as possible.
And the keen snooker player has just clinched a gold medal at the British Transplant Games, which took place in Belfast.
Former chef Paul has also went head to head with stars of the green baize in a series of charity tournaments, including snooker legend Jimmy White.
How to become an organ donor
You can join the NHS Organ Donor Register by:
Filling in a form online on https://www.organdonation.nhs.uk/ukt/RegistrationForm.do
Calling the 24-hour NHS Donor Line on 0300 1232323. Calls are charged at local rate.
By texting SAVE to 84118
You can also join when you are:
Registering for a driving licence
Applying for a Boots Advantage card
Registering at a GP surgery
Registering for a European Health Insurance card