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Gift of life a miracle

Her choice saved the lives of three people and gave sight to two others

My father, Vincenzo, celebrates two birthdays. One the date he was born. The other is the day he received a life-saving liver transplant.

Thanks to the generosity of an organ donor, Dad received the greatest of gifts in the nick of time.

He had spent the previous week in a coma; his failing liver had shut down and was unable to filter his blood. His fight for life had become a race against time.

He had been on the liver transplant waiting list for almost three years, but finally, with death knocking at the door, a saviour family stepped in to give Dad another chance.

They don't know what their decision has meant to him and his family. The transplant has allowed him to lead a normal life.

He tends to his garden and shares its fruits with the family. He savours the love of his grandchildren. He's been overseas to catch up with the brothers and sisters he thought he'd never see again.

To this day, our happiness is tinged with sadness as we try to comprehend the pain they suffered when making their decision. I hope my father's recovery offers some comfort. He prays every night for the donor and their family who came into his life at the right time.

Sixteen years on and almost to the day, I walked those same corridors where I had been with my dad years earlier.

This time, I watched my sister-in-law Christine being wheeled into the theatre where doctors would retrieve her organs.

Christine had collapsed at her home two days earlier after suffering a brain haemorrhage. She was a registered organ donor and her children Christopher and Kylie wanted her wish to be fulfilled.

The decision eloquently summed her up. Christine was a peoples' person. She was generous to the point where she preferred to go without, lest a relative or friend was in need.

So Christine wouldn't have thought twice about giving others a second chance at life. Her choice saved the lives of three people and gave sight to two others.

Most of us think we'll never need the organs of another person to survive. Some of us don't want to donate our organs, but put yourself in my Dad's shoes. If not for organ donation, they'd be the shoes of a dead man.

Nicky Burton