BRAVE Graham Brushett has suffered heart failure, kidney failure and a stroke which has left him deaf in one ear and reliant on a walking stick.
But the former teacher and squash coach insists he is “lucky” as his life was saved eight years ago thanks to a transplant.
A young man from the North East who Mr Brushett had never met provided him with a new heart and kidney after losing his own life.
Father-of-one Mr Brushett, aged 59, is now asking people to Sign up to Save Lives so more people can enjoy such a miraculous recovery.
The Bolton News is campaigning ahead of August’s Transplant Games in the town to get 5,000 extra people to sign up to the organ donor register.
He said: “Now I’m eight years on, eight years I would not have had without the generosity of his family saying ‘yes’.
“I would not be here without them and relatives must stay true to their loved ones conviction in signing the register.
“I know families who are proud that their son has helped five people live longer and enjoy a better quality of life.”
Mr Brushett first developed a racing heart while playing squash in 1993 but was treated with a pacemaker for several years, staying in work and continuing to play sport.
But in 2001 his heart failed.
It forced him to retire from his job teaching politics and business studies at Rivington and Blackrod High School.
He was listed for a heart transplant in August, 2005, but had a stroke while waiting which left him “too ill” to be considered.
Then a lack of oxygen to the kidneys left Mr Brushett with kidney failure and being treated on dialysis.
Mr Brushett said: “I was actually quite fit before, and coached squash at amateur level, but once my heart failed I was really ill.
“I was spending more time in hospital than I was out and my quality of life was low.
“But I was lucky. There were 20 of us on dialysis on a ward when I was waiting for a transplant and I was the only one to survive.”
His son, Sam, is now about to enter the final year of Masters degree in civil engineering at the University of Liverpool and Mr Brushett has been able to help and support him through his studies, which at one stage looked unlikely. He added: “The register is a powerful social contract.
“Nine out of 10 families say yes to doctors if they know their loved one has signed the register.
“Not only should people sign up but they must tell their families.”
To Sign Up to Save Lives, go to the NHS organ donor register at organdonation.nhs.uk, call 0300 1232323 or text SAVE to 62323.