Mum highlights issue of organ donation shortage after 10-year-old son is diagnosed with rare disorder
Pam Howarth, from Seaham, has set out to encourage conversations with loved ones about whether they want to donate their organs after they die and to spread awareness of the shortage.
Pam’s son Christoper Owen, 10 was diagnosed with Henoch-Schönlein purpura (HSP) which affects the blood vessels, in June 2019, after developing a rash.
Christopher’s condition, which affects just one per cent of children across the UK, developed and lead to kidney failure after his immune system broke down.
After being taken to Newcastle’s Royal Victoria Infirmary, doctors unfortunately couldn’t save his kidneys and Christopher remains on dialysis.
Pam said: “He was absolutely fine up until the last few years, and now he lives on a machine – he’s coping but it’s not a way of life.
"Families will always be consulted about whether you wanted to be an organ donor or not, and clinicians will never proceed with organ donation if your family or loved ones object so this is why these conversations with loved ones are more important then ever.”
Christopher, who is also autistic, is hoping to receive a new kidney from his father if the tests come back a match.
His mum Pam says the shortage of donors has come as a huge shock.
She added: “It just takes one healthy person to help the lives of nine people, so I want to raise awareness of this and hopefully more people will donate.
"Christopher also needs a feeding tube for growth hormones because he has no immune system, so he would struggle a lot less if we can find a kidney match.”
The 10-year-old, who is a pupil at Seaham Trinity School has struggled with changes in his life but mum Pam says the school have been a huge help.
She said: “Seaham Trinity have been fantastic and especially through lockdown, they have also been helping with raising awareness of organ donation.
"People underestimate the specification, tests and operation for giving up a kidney but it really can save someone’s life.”