A HEART transplant patient who cares for his ill wife says doctors “saved two lives” the day they operated on him.
Curtis Jackson lives in Harwood with wife Diana, who suffers from multiple sclerosis.
She developed the condition within weeks of them marrying in 1993.
Then, in 1998, the couple were dealt a second devastating blow when Mr Jackson suffered a heart attack.
The former sales assistant initially recovered but then suffered heart failure, which meant his wife faced the prospect of battling her condition alone.
But his life was transformed on October 5, 2010, when he was given a new heart and a new lease of life.
Mr Jackson, who says the operation restored his quality of life and spared his wife years of added misery, is urging Bolton people to make more recoveries such as his possible by becoming organ donors.
Mrs Jackson, aged 55, has two carers visit her four times a day, even with the help her husband can now provide.
The Bolton News is campaigning to get as many local people as possible to Sign Up To Save Lives this year as the Transplant Games starts in the town on August 7.
Mr Jackson said: “I am here to help look after my wife, who otherwise would have been left on her own with multiple sclerosis.
“They saved two lives when they managed to save me. They saved her from real misery.”
It took Mr Jackson three years to get on to the transplant list, but then he received the phone call, telling him a heart was his, within just three days. He said: “I was really lucky as I have a lot of antigens in my body.
“The more you have got the harder it is to get a match so it could have been a long wait for me.”
He added he was extremely unwell for six weeks before the operation. Mr Jackson could walk no further than 20 to 30 yards, and he said the difference between then and now in terms of quality of life is “incredible”.
To potential donors he added: “What if you need an organ one day? If nobody is on the organ donor register there will not be any organs for them to have. I would also say if you are in the position of being offered an organ, take it, don’t have a second thought.”
Now, Mr Jackson, whose life was saved because a man from the Midlands in his mid-20s was on the organ donor register, will take part in the golf, darts and snooker at the Transplant Games.
He added: “I’m trying to teach myself to play darts again and I have entered the snooker and bought a new cue, although it is 30 years since I played.”
Despite his problems with mobility, Mr Jackson has also signed up to complete The Bolton News Donor Run on August 9, with some of his wife’s carers enlisted to help him complete the course.
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.
The games start on Thursday and run until Sunday, August 10.