'You can save someone's life' - People urge others to join organ transplant list

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Two people who received life-changing transplants are urging others to sign up to help give more people a second chance.

Both Maxine Tapp and Phillip Hardwell were diagnosed with serious health conditions which then progressively got worse.

Maxine Tapp from Somerset was told she had Primary Sclerosing Cholangitis at the age of 17. It is a condition which ultimately leads to liver failure.

The 33-year-old was put on the transplant list in 2013 and received her life-saving operation in October the following year, something she says she will always be grateful for.

"I have now got a future to look forward to and that is all thanks to one person for signing up to be an organ donor and to their family for agreeing to donate their organs," she said.

"I owe my life to them. Not one day has gone by where I haven't thought of my donor and their family and thanked them for giving me the gift of life, I will continue to do that for the rest of my life.

"I remember getting the call in the early hours of the morning and being really nervous and sad because you know the situation another family are in for you to get that organ.

"I think about that person and their family every day."

Maxine with her one year old daughter Credit: ITV

Now almost a decade on Maxine is able to play with her one-year-old daughter, something she never thought would be possible until she underwent that operation.

"The family and that person are incredibly important to me, it is not just one life they save they save the lives of a whole family.

"I would tell people to just have a conversation with their families about it because for someone else it can be the difference between life and death."

That is an opinion echoed by Phillip Hardwell from South Gloucestershire after his life was saved when a new heart was donated to him.

Phillip, a former soldier of 12 years, was just 29 years old when he was diagnosed with a rare genetic heart condition.

It was something that had taken the life of his mother when he was just 14.

Now 35, the fit and healthy dad-of-two is preparing to run the London Marathon two years after his life was changed forever.

"I remember being sent for tests and it being a bit of a strange time," he said.

"I remember when they told me and I was in shock.

Phillip was told that he would need a new heart after being diagnosed with a genetic condition in his late 20s. Credit: ITV

"It was really tough and go for a long time and when I was finally admitted to hospital the doctors told me a number of times that I was incredibly lucky to have made it that far.

"I think the support of my family and my friends made a massive difference to me, but it was my two boys. I just kept thinking that I had to make it through for them."

He was transferred to the Royal Papworth Hospital in November 2019 after suffering heart failure. The veteran soldier was then fitted with a bi-ventricular assisted device and an ECMO machine as other organs began to fail.

"When it gets to that point there is no going back so it was really touch and go at that stage," he continued.

"I was in a coma for some time as well, it was just so scary."

In April of 2020 that all changed though when he was finally informed that there was a heart that had been donated for him.

"It changed my life, that donor completely gave me my life back," he said.

"It is now around 900 days on from my operation and every single one of those is a gift that I thank the donor and their family for.

"I am able to spend more time with my boys and my family which means everything to me."

Phillip will be running the marathon in the capital on Sunday for the British Heart Foundation, he has also written his own book about his life and experiences of being on the transplant list with an aim of getting more people to sign up as organ donors.

"The book looks at everything and it was a way for me to show some gratitude to those people," he said.

"They are heroes, they saved my life and I will never forget it."

By becoming an organ donor you can save up to nine lives. There are currently more than 470 people in the West Country alone who are in need of an urgent organ transplant.