Luton councillor who has had two transplants makes emotional plea to promote organ donation

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Councillor Fatima Begum described the “profound impact” organ donation can have

A powerful and emotional plea to promote organ donation has been made by a Luton borough councillor, who has received the “gift of life” twice through transplant operations.

“A resolution with the power to make a lasting impact on our community,” was how Labour Central councillor Fatima Begum described her motion to a full council meeting.

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“It’s a subject carrying the immense weight of giving life to another, and one very close to my heart,” she said. “I stand before you as someone whose life has been touched by the extraordinary gift of organ donation.

Labour Central councillor Fatima Begum delivers an emotional speech about organ donation at a council meetingLabour Central councillor Fatima Begum delivers an emotional speech about organ donation at a council meeting
Labour Central councillor Fatima Begum delivers an emotional speech about organ donation at a council meeting

“This started while I was at school doing my GCSEs, when my kidneys failed. I was on dialysis for five years waiting for a transplant.

“I had to sit still on a chair for three hours with my hand strapped to prevent movement which could dislodge the two large needles in my arm, risking severe injury and significant blood loss.

“Being on dialysis can lead to various health issues, including diabetes, blood clots, high blood pressure, regular infection and excessive fluid retention with limited mobility.

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“I developed high blood pressure, fluid retention and infection, which put me in a coma for two days in 2008,” she explained. “I wasn’t allowed during this time to eat most food and drinks we take for granted.

“If I had half a banana, I couldn’t eat anything else containing potassium, such as a jacket potato. I was limited in what I could drink, which was extremely difficult for me being a tea drinker.

“My first kidney transplant was in 2009, which worked for 13 years. I then had to go back on dialysis when my first kidney failed before my second transplant in September 2022.

“Being on the waiting list as someone who falls under the Black, Asian and ethnic minority community, I consider myself lucky to only wait for five years.

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“I’ve witnessed people at that time waiting for up to 20 years. So when I talk about organ donation, it’s not a distant concept for me. It’s a reminder of the fragility and resilience of life, and the potential we all have to be someone else’s hero.

“I’m not only advocating for a cause, but also testifying to the profound impact it can have on real lives. It wasn’t just about medical procedure. It was a narrative of resilience, compassion and the extraordinary power of human connection,” she added.

“Each organ donor is a silent hero leaving a permanent mark on the lives they touch. Through their generosity they offer the precious gift of life, enabling someone else to breathe, to see, to love, to dream.

“To those who’ve already chosen the path of organ donation, I salute you. Your selflessness illuminates the human spirit. For those who may be contemplating this decision, I encourage you to reflect on the extraordinary impact you can have on another person’s life.”

Councillors unanimously supported the motion asking the council to support the work of Bedfordshire Hospitals’ organ donation committee, and raising awareness among ethnic minorities communities.

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