The Irish mother of a little boy awaiting a vital heart transplant in Newcastle has urged families to “have the chat” about organ donation to save lives in Ireland and the UK.
Kate Perkins (33), who is mum to 20-month-old Archie, created video in which she highlighted the importance of organ donation and asked all families to have a conversation before they are ever in a “nightmare situation”.
“I had been thinking about making a video since April when we were told that, for Archie, a transplant is the only solution. I’m normally quite private but I just wanted to raise awareness about organ donation which is dropping in the UK and I believe in Ireland.
“It’s important to talk about these things before you’re in a horrible situation on either side,” said Kate, who is originally from Dublin but moved to the UK to study in 2000.
Six days after Archie was born in December 2013 he underwent open heart surgery to treat a narrowing of his aorta, which was restricting the blood flow around his body. Although the little boy lived a relatively normal life since his release from hospital a month later, consultants decided in April 2015 that a heart transplant was the only solution in Archie's circumstance.
“Archie has been in Newcastle’s Freeman Hospital full-time since June. Our lives are far from normal right now and I’m with him most of the day from 7am until 8pm or 9pm. I’m lucky with the support of the Sick Children’s Trust and CHUF’s nursery nurses who always allow me to take ten minutes if I just need a cry or a break or a cup of tea. They’ve been a Godsend.
“My husband Nick is based in Stafford-upon-Avon at the moment and we’re in Newcastle and everything at the moment is turned a little bit upside down,” she said.
Despite the hugely stressful wait for Archie’s transplant, Kate revealed that she makes a special effort to stay positive for her son.
“I’ve always been quite a positive person. Of course I’ve had my moments where I’ve sat in a room and cried my eyes out thinking ‘Why is this happening to me?’ but that doesn’t help.
“I want Archie to look at me and see a smile on my face, not see me upset. I’m lucky to have such a great support network of friends and family in Ireland,” she said.
Kate’s video has already been viewed more than 230,000 times and has even been shared by presenters Ant and Dec.
“The response to the video has been amazing. I’ve had messages from people I haven’t spoken to in years about Archie. I really didn’t think it would get this much attention but I’m thrilled it’s raising awareness for organ donation.
“It’s just so important to be able to say ‘We’ve had the chat about this’ because it could save lives of children like Archie. Right now we’re just waiting on the right heart to come along to save his life,” she said.