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Ex-Man United striker Andy Cole on how his nephew saved his life with organ donation

Andy Cole has received a new kidney. Credit: PA

Former Manchester United and England striker Andy Cole has spoken about how his life was saved by his nephew thanks to an organ donation.

The 46-year-old needed a transplant after his kidney was damaged when he suffered from a rare condition.

After spending two years on dialysis, his nephew Alexander Palmer who was deemed a perfect match and the transplant surgery took place in April 2017.

Asked if he supported the 'opt-out' system, which would mean people would be automatically registered as donors unless they state otherwise, Cole said: “I am 100% behind the campaign.

“Maybe if you came to me five years ago, I would have said something totally different. But for me the past two years has changed so much. This illness knocked me off my feet."

Cole had a lengthy Premier League career with the likes of Manchester United and Newcastle United. Credit: PA

There were some tough times for the former England international who avoided being one of the 4,712 people who have died while waiting for an organ transplant over the last decade.

“I found it really difficult to cope, after being as fit as I was. There is no hell like it. My family all rallied round to offer to be donors and that meant I had a donor quickly," Cole told the Daily Mirror.

"Alexander said to me, ‘Uncle I will do it. I cannot see you in this pain any more.’ I knew it would not be easy.

“He was 27 at the time, young, fit, the perfect match. But it was still a dilemma. I was thinking, ‘What if it does not work, I have put him through all this pain, and he has risked all this for me?’

“Thankfully he made a full recovery. But I know that others in need are not so lucky, and wait years for a donor. Alex’s noble act saved me. I will be indebted to him for the rest of my life.”

Cole earned 15 caps for England, scoring one goal. Credit: PA

There will be a vote in Parliament on Friday on whether to change the currently organ donation rules.

“I would say to MPs, ‘I have been through this. You can stop a lot of suffering.’

“Transplant is a life-changing ­experience. Organ donation transforms lives. It is torture for you, torment for you as an individual in need.

“Imagine being the parent of a six or seven-year-old who needs a transplant and there is no match. I understand now what that means.”