Brave Martin Pratt is in desperate need of a double lung transplant to have a long future with his beloved family.
The 44-year-old has spent a year on the organ donor waiting list and is facing a race against time to undergo life-saving surgery at Newcastle’s Freeman Hospital.
At the age of four Martin had a bout of pneumonia and appeared to have recovered well, however, when he was in his mid-20s he began to suffer serious breathing difficulties.
Medics undertook a number of examinations and Martin was told he had a condition which causes severe scarring of the lung tissue.
The father-of-two, of Silksworth, Sunderland, is now on oxygen 24/7 and is gradually getting worse as he waits for an suitable organ to become available.
He said: “About four years ago I noticed that my breathing was getting worse and worse. Walking is hard and doing simple tasks like hoovering is difficult for me. It effects everything - as a man it’s embarrassing for people to see you so out of breath.
“It can feel as though six people are sat on my chest, squeezing the air out of me, and I can wake up in the morning gasping for air. Getting breathless is a way of life for me.”
Martin, who has children, Thomas, 14, and Lily, three, and lives with partner, Victoria Hallard, 36, used to have a job selling mobility equipment, but he is now unable to work because of his condition.
He has been called to hospital four times in the last 12 months as possible transplants became available, but they all fell through at the last minute, and his vigil is ongoing.
Martin said: “When I’m gasping for air I do fear that I may go past the point of being able to get a transplant, but I remain positive and don’t think this will happen.
“When the house phone rings or there is a call through the night you hope it’s to say a transplant is available. But I try not to think about it too much as I don’t see any point in beating myself up about the situation.”
Martin has to be constantly wired up to oxygen and can not travel any further than within a two hour reach from Newcastle’s Freeman Hospital, resulting in his family being unable to go on holiday.
Yet the hardest part for Martin is his inability to play with his young daughter at an important time in her life.
“I am worried about the effect it has on my family and children,” said Martin. “My family are the most important thing to me.
“It’s frustrating that I can’t do as much as I’d like. I’m looking forward to the time when I can take my daughter to the beach or run around with her.
“Lily has not known anything different as my condition started to worsen around the time she was born. She has been a God send because I’m kept busy and don’t get a chance to over think things.”
It has been National Transplant week and new figures show that 316 people in the North East need a transplant, and 31 patients have died due to a shortage of organs in the last year.
For many years the debate around the current ‘opt-in’ system of organ donation, where individuals are asked to register to be a donor, has rumbled on as some believe a shortage in donors needs to prompt a review of the system.
Martin added: “I have always thought along the lines that there should be an ‘opt-out’ rather than an ‘opt-in’ system. A double lung transplant would be life-changing for me and my family.”