Is this Britain’s biggest lifesaver? Pensioner has donated more than 120 pints of blood and has even donated his kidney to a stranger
Is this Britain’s biggest lifesaver? A pensioner could have saved more than 1500 lives and has even given a stranger his kidney.
Rodger Webster, 72, from Glenbranter, Argyll, has donate blood 126 times in his life – with each donation saving up to 12 babies or three adults.
He donated for the first time at the age of 18, while working as a factory apprentice, before going on to join the merchant navy where he’d go on to donate more than a hundred times.
It is estimated that every donation of blood, plasma and platelets can help up to three adults or 12 babies.
Two years ago, Rodger was told he could not donate any more blood due to previous health problems but that didn’t stop him.
Determined to save more lives, he decided to give one of his kidneys away – knowing his late wife, who died from bowel cancer and kidney problems in 1978, would have been proud.
This month is the first anniversary of his organ donation and although he is unable to donate anything else himself, he’s encouraging others to challenge his donation record.
Rodger, now retired, said: “I’m quite pleased I’ve managed to donate 126 times and now have to encourage others to do the same.
“Knowing I’ve saved more than 1500 lives is incredible if it went to babies it can be used way more as they don’t need as much blood.
“I wish I could do more to help but I can’t donate blood anymore and after giving away my kidney there’s nothing left I can do.
“The first time I donated I decided to do it in a group, in my eyes, I did it because it wouldn’t cost me anything and I wasn’t alone so I wasn’t scared to give it a try.
“From there I was hooked, I used to look forward to giving blood and would be fed up of waiting three months between donations.
“Seeing the blood donation tally going up was great and whenever I left I had a really good feeling so self-satisfaction.
“In Kuwait we used to be paid 10 dinar donating blood which was great because it gave us money to get airmail newspapers, chocolate and coca cola which was a luxury on a ship in 1967.
“Another time I donated in Manilla in the Philippines I had a man run after me to thank us for donating blood to a stranger in another country.
“Recently I was told because I was over 70 and hadn’t given blood in the last couple of years due to health reasons I couldn’t donate any more.
“I’m a bit stubborn and really wanted to help more people, I don’t like sitting still so I started to look into organ donation.
“I thought, why not donate a kidney at 71, while I was fit enough for the operation and the kidney fit enough for a transplant.
“It took 14months to process because there was a lot of tests and checks done to your body and your mental health are ok but now I’ve done it I feel great.”
Rodger reached his blood donation milestone of 100th in 1994 and two years ago, having donated 126 times, he was told he could not donate any more blood so he looked into other options.
Rodger added: “Recently my sister did a family tree that showed we all live long lives, which scared me a little because I worried that by the time I die my organs may not be any good for anyone else.
“I was a bit stubborn and thought well if I can’t give blood, I’ll offer one of my kidneys.
“Now after several good kidney function tests over the past year they are happy with my recovery and now we’re coming up to the anniversary of my donation there’s only a very faded three inch scar left.”
His donation was to an anonymous recipient so he knows nothing about who his kidney went to apart from that they are from the London area.
Rodger said: “I’ve had not communication with my recipient, but you work on the principle that you don’t know where it’s going so I’m not disappointed.
“I thought that if the transplant went well, then I would be giving someone a healthy life and that was a bit of comfort to me as I never had any children of my own.
“I’d like to think that my kidney could have changed someone’s life.”
Currently there are 6,500 people waiting for a lifesaving transplant in the UK – by registering for an organ donor card one person can save up to nine lives.
Sarah Jones, a trustee from organ donation charity Live Life Give Life, said: “People who donate, like Rodger are doing something quite extraordinary and are giving life to those who need a second chance of life due to organ failure.
“We hope that by sharing his story Rodger will inspire others to donate their organs whether it be through live donation such as Rodger did, or at the end of their life.
“We all want to stop people dying whilst on the waiting list and we that by educating people about the importance of organ donation and explaining to everyone how precious this Gift is.
“The biggest difference you can make in life is the difference you make in someone elses – give the Gift of Life and make their life beautiful.”
You can sign the organ donor register online at www.organdonation.nhs.uk or by phoning 0300 123 23 23.
For more information on kidney donations visit giveakidney.org
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