PhD triumph following two organ transplants

Dr Claire Corps is urging people to sign up as organ donors during National Transplant Week. Picture: Adrian Murray. (1307084AM3)
Dr Claire Corps is urging people to sign up as organ donors during National Transplant Week. Picture: Adrian Murray. (1307084AM3)

A Ripon woman who endured two life-saving organ transplants and became one of the top 150 survivors in the UK is urging people to sign up as organ donors.

As part of National Transplant Week – which started on Monday, July 8 and runs until Sunday, July 14 – 45-year-old Dr Claire Corps has been asking people to consider adding their details to the organ donation register as “one donor can save several lives”.

Speaking at her home on Littlethorpe Road, Claire told the Gazette: “I am extremely lucky and I want people to know how great and important it is to donate organs. I have spoken to lots of families who say it is a great comfort to know their loved one lives on when organs are donated.”

Claire had her first organ transplant in 1980 as a young girl, after being diagnosed with polycystic kidney disease. Claire’s donated kidney is now 33-years-old, making her one of the longest survivors of a kidney transplant in the UK. Seventeen years after the kidney procedure, Claire became one of the first people in the country to undergo a liver transplant following a kidney transplant.

Claire was working at St James’s Hospital in Leeds when she discovered she needed a liver transplant, which was carried out by her boss at the time in the Leeds hospital.

“I was in denial that my liver way failing,” Claire, who lives with her father and has two nephews and a niece who attend Ripon schools, said.

“But the doctor told me, ‘have the liver transplant or die’. I found out I needed a transplant in the October of 1997, and the doctor said if I didn’t go through with the procedure, I’d be dead by Christmas that year. I was lucky but many people are not as lucky, dying while waiting for a transplant. Over the years I have lost several friends in that way and I don’t want to lose anymore,” said Clare.

Since her life-changing operations, Claire has gained a PhD in organ transplantation and now works in clinical trials at St James’s Hospital.

“It was a triumph to get my PhD after what I have been through,” Claire beamed. “Ever since my kidney transplant, organ donation has been a life-long interest.”

Talking about her transplant-inspired career choice, Claire said: “I thought, ‘what is my right to take an organ?’ That’s why I work with clinical trails now, so I can give something back. I want to try to encourage people to open up and let their relatives know what their wishes are for their organs when they die.”

- Claire will be at the Donate Life Concert in Sheffield on Saturday, July 13. To become an organ donor visit www.organdonation.nhs.uk