A Glengormley man whose wife died during childbirth almost five years ago has teamed up with three friends on a quest to raise awareness about the importance of organ donation.
Steve Carter’s wife, Denise, passed away after suffering a massive brain haemorrhage while giving birth to their fourth child. But the donation of her organs saved the lives of five other people.
Now Steve, along with friends Christopher Johnston, William Johnston and Neil Robinson, have launched the ‘1 GOAL (Gift of a Lifetime) = 9 LIVES’ organ donation challenges.
The four men have lined up nine different challenges throughout 2014 in a bid to raise £9,000 for various organ donation charities and highlight the importance of organ donation.
“When a person decides to donate organs on their death, they can potentially save or transform the lives of nine other people,” Steve explained. “Organs which can be transplanted include the heart, lung, liver, kidneys, pancreas, bowel, corneas, bone/tissue and cartilage.
“It is our united GOAL to encourage people to give a Gift of a Lifetime.”
Steve represents donor families, while Christopher, who received a kidney from his brother six years ago, represents transplant recipients. William, who had been waiting for a kidney transplant for 16 years, and Neil, who waited on the same operation for 22 years, represent those waiting on a suitable donor.
In the first of the challenges, held on Saturday, January 11 at LA Fitness in Armagh, Steve and his two eldest sons, Cameron and Ethan, along with Christopher and Neil, completed nine fitness classes in nine hours.
Amazingly, over the past few days, both William and Neil finally received their long-awaited transplant operations.
The 1 GOAL = 9 LIVES initiative, which will be officially launched towards the end of February, aims to increase public awareness of organ donation, encourage people to consider signing the Donor Register, stimulate people to talk to their loved ones about their wishes regarding organ donation and raise funds for future organ donation promotion projects. Money raised during the challenges will also help pay for equipment for young transplant patients at the Royal Belfast Hospital for Sick Children.
The eight remaining challenges, which will be open to anyone interested in the promotion of organ donation or raising funds for organ donation charities, will include abseiling down Europa Hotel, a 9km swim, 9 mile walk, 9 hole golf, 9 film cinema challenge and a 90 mile Lap The Lough cycle challenge.
Steve and Christopher hope to complete all nine challenges, while William and Neil will attend all challenges and hope to complete any that their health and medical condition will allow.
Steve stressed that most of the challenges will be open to families.
“Some of the money raised will go towards toys for the many children that are on dialysis machines and have to spend hours and days in hospital. We are also putting some of the money towards a memorial bench that is being made for organ donation families,” he said.
“Doing these challenges with my children will help keep the memory of my wife and their mum alive. As we talk about Denise all the time, these challenges will increase the conversations that we have about her and we’ll talk about what amazing woman she was.
“Knowing that Denise helped five people live a near to normal life again has made me, and more importantly the children, very proud.”