October 7, 2008
Grieving Parents in Plea to Save Lives
By Emma McKinney
IT may be too late to save little Ubaid Ali, but today his heartbroken parents launched their own campaign urging every Birmingham Mail reader to sign up to the NHS's organ donor register to prevent more people like their son from dying.
Ubaid, of Acocks Green, died aged just 15 months after failing to find a liver and small bowel donor.
His parents Nyila and Zulfiqar are all too aware of the chronic shortage of donors in the UK, particularly among ethnic minorities, and they now hope their campaign will not only keep Ubaid's memory alive but will also help to save the 9,000 people who are currently desperately waiting for a transplant.
"If I'm being totally honest, 15 months ago before Ubaid was born we would never have imagined considering donating our baby's organs if they died. I'm sure it's the last thing that goes through any parent's mind," said Nyila, aged 25.
"But we've been through the huge emotional rollercoaster of watching our child suffer. We desperately wanted someone to give him a second chance, but unfortunately it was not to be.
"Now we would appeal to people to put themselves in the position of those who are desperate.
"It sounds cold, but when you're gone, you're gone. Your organs are no help to you then, but they could be someone's ultimate gift - the gift of life."
Ubaid's battle for survival began when his bowel was damaged during labour at Birmingham's Heartlands Hospital in May 2007.
Just four days later he had to undergo emergency surgery to have a large part of his small bowel removed.
It left Ubaid suffering from liver disease and in December 2007 his parents were told the devastating news that he would have no more than nine months to live unless they could find him a small bowel and liver donor.
The youngster was rushed to Birmingham Children's Hospital at the end of August after tests proved he had severe liver failure.
Medics battled in vain to save him, but he died ten days later, surrounded by his friends and family in Ward 6 of the hospital.
Nyila said: "When they turned off the ventilator we expected him to go quite quickly, but he hung in there for 45 minutes, proving he was a fighter to the very end."
The funeral was held the next day at Handsworth Cemetery.
Dad Zulfiqar, a 39-year-old supermarket worker, said his family was struggling to come to terms with Ubaid's death.
"Despite how much pain he must have gone through, he was always so happy," he added. "He was cheeky, mischievous and a bit of a ladies man.
"He used to wave and blow kisses at the nurses. His smiling face made every difficult moment worthwhile."
Zulfiqar backed the British Medical Association's calls to see Britain adopt a system of "presumed consent", where it is assumed that an individual wishes to be a donor unless they "opted out".
"I think a lot of people don't carry a donor card simply because they don't get around to signing up," he added.
More than 9,000 people in the UK need an organ transplant - but less than 3,000 transplants are carried out each year.
A donor can donate a heart, lungs, two kidneys, pancreas, liver, small bowel, corneas, bone, heart valves, tendons and even skin grafts, which help burn victims.
The need for organs in the Asian community is three to four times higher than that of the white community.
All major religions support organ donation and many actively promote it.
Anyone can join the NHS Organ Donor Register by ringing 0845 60 60 400 or visiting our website www.uktransplant.org.uk
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