Imagine this: one of your organs gets damaged.. When you get to the hospital, the doctor tells you that they have a donor- but he or she died from a drug overdose. They can't know for sure whether this person had HIV and it's possible that- by transferring the organ- you'll get HIV too. You also have the choice to wait for another donor but this can take too long and death will always be waiting around the corner. What would you choose?
It happened to the 40-year-old Tony Gartside. For 4 years, he had waited for a donor to come along and when it finally happened he was told that his donor ‘might have been infected'. While the organ had to be transplanted immidiately, the HIV test results would take two weeks. Gartside had to choose between the possibility of HIV and death.
"They showed me into a room and told me the donor organs had come from a death by drug overdose and asked if I still wanted to go ahead. Because the person died by rug overdose, they wouldn't know whether the donor had HIC for two weeks. It was a scary process having to say yes or no after sitting in the back of an ambulance for hours. I thought: ‘Do I risk it and say yes, or do I say no and wait another 18 months, or even longer? In the end, I went ahead with it."
10 hours and 32 staples in his stomach later, Tony was sick for days and couldn't stand up straight. Two weeks later, the test results came in... they were negative.
Since his experience, Tony Gartside has set up a support group for patients going through a transplant procedure. "Doctors have the clinical experience and can tell you what's going to happen during surgery, but they don't have a realistic explanation of what is going to happen for the patient."