Hibs back organ donors campaign after fan benefits

Hibs fan Claudia Bell is enjoying her footballing favourites more than ever – thanks to the generosity of a complete stranger.

Martin Boyle, Keith Watson, Paul Hanlon, Mark Oxley, Farid El Alagui, Scott Robertson and Lewis Stevenson promote the campaign. Picture: Gareth Easton

The 51-year-old underwent a kidney transplant in January after almost four years on the waiting list.

The club she’s supported all her life is now backing a national campaign which urges Scots to discuss their organ donation wishes with loved ones. Organ Donation Scotland teams were out in force around Easter Road yesterday chatting to fans heading to the derby with Hearts, which Hibs won 2-0.

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Claudia underwent the transplant after living with polycystic kidney disease for almost 30 years. Due to her deteriorating kidney function, she began dialysis in 2010 and underwent surgery to have a kidney removed in 2011 – meaning she was able to go on the transplant list later that year.

Eventually an altruistic donor came forward, and Claudia’s life has been transformed.

She said: “I can’t believe that a total stranger would show such generosity and offer the most amazing gift to me.

“The difference in how I feel after my transplant to how I felt before is remarkable.

“I have so much more energy and I don’t have to dialyse any more, which gives me so much more freedom.

“It’s the best gift I’ve ever received. People need to be aware of the huge difference organ donation can make to someone’s life.

“If your family know what your organ donation wishes are, then should they ever have to make that decision, they can maybe make a positive impact on someone else’s life. This is why it’s so important to discuss your wishes.”

Seven Hibs players donned number 7 shirts as they backed the campaign, which aims to raise awareness of how seven words – “I’d like to be an organ donor” – can save as many lives.

Claudia said: “I’m a massive Hibs fan. When I was on dialysis, I actually changed the days I was in hospital so I’d still be able to watch their matches.

“I think getting football clubs on board with this campaign is a brilliant idea. It’s going to reach a whole new audience of people and a real cross-section of society who might not really have thought about organ donation before or have discussed it with their family. Going to the football is something people often do with their families, so it’s the perfect opportunity for them to have the discussion.”

Other football clubs including St Johnstone, Hamilton Accies and Rangers have got behind the number 7 drive

A Hibs spokesperson, said: “Claudia’s story is inspirational and underlines how important joining the NHS Organ Donor Register really is.”