Lucia was given the ‘gift of life’

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An inspirational Ballycastle teenager told members of Coleraine Borough Council that she ‘treasures every day’, after she was given the ‘gift of life’ - a life saving liver transplant in 2009.

15-year-old Lucia Mee joined Mary McAfee, the Causeway Hospital’s Specialist Transplant Nurse, and Karen Acheson, whose brother donated organs following his death, at the December meeting of Coleraine Borough Council.

In an emotional account, Lucia told members how her life had been saved by two liver transplants. The first took place back in 2007, but was unsuccessful, Lucia was then given a second transplant in 2009.

Lucia explained how she had visited her doctor with jaundice in her eyes, and that a week later she was in a hospital in Birmingham and had been placed on the transplant list.

“I try to treasure every day,” she said.

“The donors and their family have given me time to be with the people I love. They have given me an amazing gift, the gift of life,” said the inspirational teenager.

Lucia, who plans to swim in the transplant games next summer added: “I am one of thousands alive thanks to an organ donor. Donors and their families are angels of this world.”

Mary McAfee highlighted the importance of signing the organ donor register. She said that in 2010 ten individuals had consented to organ donation at Causeway Hospital. This helped 29 patients.

Encouraging people to talk about donation, Mrs McAfee said: “We need to break down the barriers, we need to encourage people to talk about donation.”

Karen Acheson from Mosside, told Council members what organ donation meant to her family. Brave Karen said that her brother Mervyn, who was dependant on alcohol, had donated his organs following his death.

“The whole process was very easy. We knew as a family it was the right thing to do,” told Karen. “Mervyn felt worthless when he was alive, but he could make his life worthwhile,” said Karen.

Karen told the chamber that a 17-year-old student and a 50-year-old father had benefited from her brother’s kidneys. “ After Mervyn’s death I went to the pub that he frequented and all his pals signed up,” she said. “People feel that they are too old to be a donor, but you are never too old.”

Members praised all three women for their presentation. Independent councillor Claire Sugden described Lucia as ‘inspirational’ and a ‘credit to Northern Ireland’.

Members were in favour of some kind of partnership with the Organ Donation Services Team in a bid to highlight the importance of organ donation to the people of the Borough.

Chief Executive, Keiran Doherty said that a Coleraine Borough Council delegation would be meeting Health Minister Jim Wells in January and that the issue could be raised then.

Mr Doherty went on: “This Council wants to build on the work already done to promote the message of organ donation.”

Members agreed.