Thursday, 31 December 2009

My 2009

Have a read of the blogs below... have had a blogging marathon recently...

1. What did you do in 2009 that you'd never done before? ... So many! I went on TV, I went down to London on my own... went away with friends on my own... had my first hangover! What a year!

2. Did you keep your new years' resolutions, and will you make more for next year? ....
Last years resolution was mainly to make my donor and my donor family proud... I hope I have achieved this and continue achieve this every single year! Next year... I want to get fit, go to the gym lots more and lose weight! My Mum and Grans resolution for me would be to find myself a fella... will see about that one!

3. How will you be spending New Year's Eve? ...
I will be spending the evening with friends... for the first time ever! I always spend new years with my parents, this will be the first year I will be well enough to spend it away from home! It will be a house party and then going back to my best friends new house and staying there the night!

4. Did anyone close to you die? ...
A good friend I got to know through transplant community died this year, she was so young and died so needlessly all because a transplant didn't come in time!

5. What countries did you visit? ...
Ireland :)

6. What would you like to have in 2010 that you lacked in 2009? ...
I can't actually think of anything for this one... ? 2009 has been one of the best years ever...2010 has got a lot to live up to! I think my Mother would answer that I need a man on this one.... not to sure myself haha!

7. What date from 2009 will remain etched upon your memory, and why? ...
7th April... Donor Day! What a fantastic day! Will certainly remember that day till I die... met some great people, appeared on GMTV, Radio, In newspapers... and most of all got thousands of people to sign the Organ Donor Regsiter on this day!

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year? ...
Graduating would be number one... the National Award for volunteering would be number 2!

9. What was your biggest failure? ...
Hmmm this is a toughy... is it big headed if I can't think of anything? I'll come back to it if I do...

10. Did you suffer illness or injury? ...
After a night out I often wake up with random bruises, I don't know where they come from! I seem to fall over a lot... my friends will vouch for this... I am sure my mother would also tell you the story of me being injured by an automatic door on Christmas day this year... Also still having regular check ups at the hospital but that is to be expected!

11. What was the best thing you bought? ...
Blackberry!!! So useful... text, phone, email, facebook and twitter all the move... perfect!

12. Where did most of your money go? ...
I haven't been that extravagant this year... probably clothes...

13. What song will always remind you of 2009? ...
I have no idea... there are sooo many! I have spent a lot of time going out with my friends clubbing this year so so many memories attached to songs! The prodigy - Omen for halloween... Black Eyed Peas - I've got a feeling!

14. What do you wish you'd done more of? ...
Seen more of my friends in London... this year I will come and stay with you Emily!

15. What do you wish you'd done less of? ....
Hmmm shopping? Would have saved me money! Partying = less hangovers! I don't have any regrets though so nothing really!

16. What was your favourite TV program? ... Sucker for reality TV, so Big Bro and X factor! Loved the Royle Family on Christmas day, I was crying with laughter.

17. Do you hate anyone now that you didn't hate this time last year? ...

18. What was the best book you read? ...
I'm in the middle of Twilight at the minute.... last book I completed was My Sisters Keeper I think.

19. What was your greatest musical discovery? ...
The Courteeners - went to a gig of theirs in November... So good live!

20. What was your favourite film of this year? ... The Time Travellers Wife - had me in tears... Loved New Moon too

21. What did you do on your birthday? ... Takeaway and drinks at my house with friends and then off into town for cocktails and dancing... perfect!

22. What kept you sane? ...
Friends and Family :) Thank you!

23. Who did you miss? ...
I miss the people that don't live near me... mainly people from Live Life Then Give Life.

24. Who was the best new person you met? ...
I met so many great and inspirational people this year, they will be friends forever! Oli Barrett and Amy Maclaren my Battlefront Mentors, fab people at the Donor Family Network... People from Live Life Then Give Life... specifically Pops as we have the same sense of humour, chat every day and get on like a house on fire!

25. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2009: ...
Oooo theres got to be two... Its not what you know, its who you know... NETWORKING (thanks Oli B)!

Don't take things for granted, live life to the full, I certainly have!

Next blog will be in the new year! I will look back more on 2009 and let you know what I plan to do in 2010! Until then heres to a happy and healthy new year! x

Wednesday, 30 December 2009

First lines of 2009

First lines of the first blog of each month for a whole year... may make no sense what so ver but hey... lets have a go!

January - The New Year got off to a great start as I received a phone call on New Year's Eve to say that my blood results are the best they have ever been!

February - So another busy week!

March - Ok so I've been neglectful of my blog recently... but with good reason!

April - We need to get people together for a rather awesome photocall!

May - So the dissertation is done... Finally! All 10,007 words of it bound and submitted, what a relief!

June - Yes it has been a while...

July - Yesterday me and my friend Sally got up at the crack of dawn (well 6.30, which is the crack of dawn for students like us!) We were driven to Westhoughton High School in Bolton by the lovely taxi driver - my Dad!

August - Just a quick one to say all is well.

September - Just a quick one (I promise), just to say I had a lovely weekend with my Mum and Abigail, lots of playing and giggles!

October - Life takes over and I completely forget about keeping this up to date. Sometimes it takes over with good and happy events, this time that wasn't the case.

November - I was going to write about Save Jess-tival but check out the Live Life Then Give Life blog... as it is a great write up!

December - Not on cloud 9, even higher... I am on Cloud Number 10.

Tuesday, 29 December 2009

The greatest gift of all at christmas...

This blog seems to be taking a back seat... but this only means one thing... I am enjoying life and having lots of fun... spending less time sitting in front of a computer!

I have done various bits and bobs to raise awareness of Organ Donation over the past few weeks, the 2 main ones that stick out are the Radio Merseyside programme called Life Begins. The presenter was called Ian Kenyon and it was the most relaxed interview I have ever done! He asked all the right questions, gave me plenty of time to answer and I said everything I wanted to say!

Another opportunity to raise awareness came about when the PR lady from The Royal Liverpool Hospital got in touch, they wanted to do an article about 3 people affected by organ donation. A person who was waiting for a transplant (turns out I used to dialyse with him when I was first diagnosed in 2005), a doctor who works in ICU and me, being a recipient! Mum took me up to the Royal a couple of weeks ago for us to have our picture taken together... 3 very different people, affected by organ donation in very different ways. The article hasn't been printed in the Liverpool Echo yet, I will let you know as soon as it is so you can get yourselves a copy, I will be interested to see how it is written up and how it is linked together.

I had a lovely christmas, it was a quiet one really. My Gran is in hospital at the minute, this will be the first christmas she hasn't spent it with us, although we did go and visit her and take her some presents. My bro, his wife and Abi came round in the morning to open presents she was so overwhelmed by it all but it was so lovely to see her running about, she is so much more aware of what is happening this year!

I got lots of lovely presents, perfume, make up, smellies, chocolates and girly stuff! This was the first year that I could really let my hair down, no restrictions - diet or fluid. Last year I was still recovering from the op and my energy levels weren't back to normal... this year I managed to do so much in the weeks leading up to christmas it was fab including lots of nights out with my friends! Not forgetting the only reason I can do all these things is thanks to my donor... who is never far from my thoughts but especially to the donor family at this time of year.

The greatest gift of all this christmas came on 27th of December, a little bit late but I can't complain... it was that Jessica Wales got her long awaited double lung transplant! What a miracle!? That morning she took a turn for the worst and things didn't look good... that night some special person gave Jess a second chance, their family said yes to Organ Donation and gave Jess the gift of life! I still get goosebumps thinking about it... Jess is such an inspirational you lady and I remember writing this blog back in September... things were worse than this on Sunday Morning... but now, things are looking better! Jess has a fighting chance, she is still on a ventilator and fully sedated (which is not unusual for lung transplant recipients) this is giving her body time to rest and recuperate as she was so ill before! Keep up to date with Jess' progress here 0n her facebook group.

What a way to end 2009?!

Jess we are all thinking of you and your family and sending lots of love to you all....

You could save lives like Jess's, give the gift of life... sign the Organ Donor Register.

Sunday, 27 December 2009

Jessica Wales


Jess...who I have talked about on this blog on numerous occasions... is IN THEATRE HAVING HER DOUBLE LUNG TRANSPLANT RIGHT NOW! (after 9 false alarm calls during her 4 year wait!)

Things were looking pretty bleak this afternoon and I thought I may have to face facts that Jess may not have much fight left in her... but at the 11th hour, the call came! I was crying with worry this afternoon... and now crying with joy!

Jess has been a huge help to me and the campaign, she is a truly inspiration young lady and deserves this second chance at life so much.

I am of course thinking of the donor and their family as well as Jess and her loved ones.

Updates on Jess and me in my next blog!

EDIT: Morning... (9.40am) Jess is just being moved to ITU... this is all I know at the minute... but it's a good sign! Keep her in your thoughts over the next few days x

Friday, 25 December 2009

Wednesday, 9 December 2009

It's not what you know...

... but who you know!

Remember back in February (its ages ago, you may not) I met the founder of Bebo, Michael Birch... After being introduced to him by Oli Barrett during filming for the Battlefront Programme. Michael is a lovely down to earth man who I quizzed about how to maximise the use of social networking to aid my campaign. He answered all my questions and was keen to get involved... he suggested a viral website that would get passed around social networking sites in the hope of people signing the organ donor register.

Well I didn't think anything would come of it... but to my surprise... it has! Recently when Jess was admitted to hospital (Just before the Save Jess-tival) I and many of my friends sent out an email to our contacts to tell them of Jess's story to encourage people to think about Organ Donation. I thought I would add Michael to this list... I forgot all about it and a few weeks later an email arrived in my inbox saying he had designed a website based on Jess' story... one that could be passed around social networking sites and hopefully reach thousands of people!

So if you want to check out Michael's handy work, why not pop on over to Help Jess Breathe and show your support by passing it on to family and friends.

Together we can make a difference... we can Help Jess Breathe.

Tuesday, 8 December 2009

Your Job For The Day...

I didn't get to do the BBC Radio Merseyside show as I was unwell yesterday, at first I thought it was side effects of my Immunosuppresant drugs, they are tinkering with the doses! For those of you geeks out there (I mean transplant patients, haha) I am now on 1.5mg of Tacrolimus twice a day (which was reduced from 2mg twice a day) and I'm on 500mg of MMF twice a day (I was on 250mg 3 times a day). I thought me feeling unwell was due to the higher dose of the MMF, turns out my neighbour had a stomach bug so maybe it was just that!

I'm feeling much better today, not totally well but I'm a lot better. I am due to get bloods on Thursday morning with the good old 24hour aswell (this totally puts plans for going out off the cards). Anyway so I was really disappointed about that but they said they will try and fit me in another time which is good of them.

I've done a few other bits and peices for the media in the past couple of days, one for a womans mag (not sure which one and when/if it will be released) and the other is for a french magazine that will be released next year, this is through a contact from Battlefront and the magazine helps French kids learn English!

In other news my good friend Emily Thackray has appeared in a short documentary by Award winning film-maker Rob Hindle its for Channel 4's 3 Minute Wonders, an entry for a competition called "It's good to know..."

The film, "I'd Give You One" is now up on 4docs website. It is extremely hard hitting and follows Emily through her wait for transplant and her recovery.

It starts with a choice that Emily had to face, a choice that is hard to comprehend...
Either we weld your lungs to your chest cavity so that you can breathe, but that will be permanent and you will die within a year; or you can wait to have both your lungs transplanted, which may never happen and if it does, you are likely to die before you ever get it...

So your Job for the day...

If you can, please can you register so that you can "love" it (by clicking the tab with the heart next to the screen) - the more love it gets, the higher up the list it goes. The winning documentary will be shown on Channel 4.

Thank you!

Sunday, 6 December 2009

Campaign news....

The campaign is still in the forefront of my mind at all times, although I may not blog about it as much as I should.

I do as much as I can to help the charity Live Life Then Give Life and this is a great way to keep my finger on the pulse about what is going on in the transplant community and the world of Organ Donation. I am thrilled that Vinspired have given the winners of the National Awards the opportunity to donate £1000 to their favourite charity... of course I have put forward LLTGL and hope that they will be accepted. Its great that I can give something back to them as a thank you for all they have done for me, whilst I was waiting for my transplant and also what they continue to do for me, supporting me in my campaign.

There have been a few articles on a local website about me that I have only just come accross... One about me graduating which is here and one about me winning the National Campaigning award here. Apparantly I was in the Manchester Evening Newspaper as well but I didn't get a chance to see that which is a shame!

I also have the opportunity to go on to BBC Radio Merseyside tomorrow to discuss all of the above and hopefully will get to mention the Downing Tweet party. It is for a programme called "Life Begins" about how peoples lives change after a significant event in their lives and how they overcome adversity. I am really looking forward to it, it should be around 10minutes long and will take you right back to the beginning of when I was diagnosed, dialysis, my transplant, the campaign, graduating and the award! (Hoping I have enough time). You will be able to LISTEN LIVE here, I will be on at around 6.45pm.

This is a bit of a mixed up blog... but one thing is for sure I am still just as passionate as ever to campaign about Organ Donation, I want to make a difference (even if it is only small) and I want to take The Gift of Life campaign forward to bigger things!

The mingling at Downing Tweet makes me want to get my bum in gear and get organising Donor Day 2010! (If you are a new reader, here is a bit about Donor Day 2009). Oli has suggested a meeting in the new year to discuss the campaign, ideas and Donor Day itself so if you think you can help at this meeting then get in touch (@thegiftoflife).

Of course there will be a call to action to the public to get involved, to tweet, to facebook or to even run their own Donor Desk. I really hope it is bigger and better than last year... with the help of YOU we can really make it something, get people to think about Organ Donation, talk about it and ultimately sign the organ donor register!

Sign Up, Spread the Word, Save Lives.

Together we can do it.

Saturday, 5 December 2009

On Cloud Number 10....

Ok so the title is a clue...

Not on cloud 9, even higher... I am on Cloud Number 10.

Let me explain. I shall go back a couple of weeks when I got a message on twitter (I'm @thegiftoflife, if you are interested) from the Prime Minister's wife the lovely Sarah Brown (@SarahBrown10). The message said can I please have your postal address as I would like to send you something... of course I obliged, wondering what it would be? I did not for one second think it would be an invite to Downing Street but that is EXACTLY what it was!

An invite for little old me to go to Number 10! I couldn't believe it, but there it was in black and white!

It was an invite from Sarah to her Downing "Tweet" party in support of the Million Mums campaign by the White Ribbon Alliance. If you haven't checked out the website, do so here. It is a great cause and aims to prevent the deaths of women in childbirth as one woman dies every minute of every day somewhere in the world due to pregnancy or birth complications. So please show your support.

Back to the evening! My parents kindly drove me down and we met up with my Battlefront Mentor Oli Barrett (@OliBarrett on twitter) who was as lovely as ever, bought us champagne and we got chatting about next steps for the Gift of Life campaign.

Oli is an old hand at going to Downing Street and so talked me through all the security stages... I think he could tell I was nervous but so ecstatic to be there! We knocked on the big black door (not before Oli did one last tweet) and then we were in, handing our phones in and people kindly taking our coats.

We headed up the famous staircase with all the past Prime Ministers pictures adorning it (Yes it was just like Love Actually) We entered the Pillared Room where the networking began and who best to show me the ropes than Oli himself! It didn't take me long to spot my good friend Emily Thackray and photographer Sarah Milne. I was a bit nervous about being in a room full of complete strangers but soon got into the swing of things (with the help of a few glasses of wine). I had been twittering with a few people that were also going to be there, including the fab Henry Elliss (@HenWeb) and so it was great to meet in person! You should check out this blog of his, where he is collating all the pictures and blogs from the night. One of the highlights for me was Beverley Knight (@Beverleyknight) singing "Shoulda, Woulda, Coulda" (one of my favourite songs of all time) and "Gold" barely 6 feet away from me, with no mic. It gave me goosebumps and brought tears to my eyes. I couldn't wait to meet her, she was so lovely gave me a hug and a kiss, she was so down to earth!

Of course THE highlight of the night was speaking with Sarah herself and her husband, Prime Minister Gordon Brown and inevitably we talked about Organ Donation! We posed for a photograph, which is something to treasure and definitely deserves a frame! (Although I do look like a child in a sweet shop, I really was that excited).

At various points throughout the night, it came back to me where I was, I still can't actually believe it all happened! Things like this don't happen to Holly Shaw from Warrington! It was THE most amazing night I have EVER had! I was mingling with stars, MPs, journalists, business people and entrepreneurs!

The famous people I met included...

Dr Christian Jessen (Embarassing Illnesses Ch 4)
Kirstie Alsop (Location, Location,Location)
Claudia Winkleman
Krishnan Guru-Murthy
Richard Bacon
Brian Friedman (Cheoreographer from X Factor)
Peter Serafinowicz (Who is now following me on Twitter!)

My confidence grew throughout the night, I actually approached Peter at the end myself (yes we are on first name terms now! Ha!) and told him that I had to say Hi before he left! At one point I was having a conversation with 5 other (lovely) people that were complete strangers. They were asking me about my campaign and were geninuly interested in it which was fantastic. I would never have had the confidence to do this before! I did find that I introduced myself almost as Holly "Kidney Transplant" Shaw, however it was a great conversation starter and a way to get talking about my campaign! It was great meeting the celebrities from the night, but I feel that the other connections I made whilst at Number 10 are people that I may be able to call friends or colleagues in the future. I hope they might be able to help me out on Donor Day 2010 and one day I may even be able to return the favour!

I can't believe the path my life is taking, yes kidney failure is a rough hand to be dealt but I'm not going to let it stand in the way of what I want to do. I wonder what direction I would have gone in otherwise? I wouldn't have met all these wonderful people, I wouldn't have been given the opportunities I have been given and most importantly I wouldn't be the person I am today! (Little old Holly Shaw from Warrington)