Jack’s gran design gives organ donor campaign a festive push

Sheona and Jack with his Christmas card design
Sheona and Jack with his Christmas card design
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AS far as good fortune goes she has had more than her share – and a “traumatising” dose of bad luck to boot.

However, these days grandmother Sheona Fortune focuses on the good luck in her life on after an organ transplant called time on years of misery.

Behind her smiles is the grandson she so longed to be able to pick up, play with and take to the park – but could not because of her chronic kidney failure – as they prepare to launch a Christmas card campaign encouraging more people to sign up for organ donation.

“Jack is such a special wee boy, and I really struggled when he was born not being able to do all the things I would want to do as a gran as I was so ill,” said Mrs Fortune. “It was traumatising.

“He understands now exactly how ill I was and asks lots of questions as to why I couldn’t be made better straight away.”

Jack, nine, a pupil at Stobhill Primary in Gorebridge, has designed a Christmas card that will be available for free in the St James Centre from Monday, with an organ donor sign-up form inside for shoppers.

The card reads: “Please, if you have not already signed up to the NHS organ donor register, take a minute to sit and think about someone who needs the gift of life this Christmas time. Do the right thing and sign up today, before it’s too late.

“Someone did this for my gran and she is no longer on dialysis and is enjoying life so much more.”

Mrs Fortune, 51, who works for HM Revenue and Customs in Edinburgh, fell ill in October 1999, suffering from stomach pains and weight loss.

However, it took more than two months for doctors to be able to correctly identify that kidney failure was at the root of her troubles – and a further five years of dialysis before an organ was available for transplant.

By that time, Jack was three, and Mrs Fortune was unable to take an active part in his development because of her need for treatment.

The grandmother, who lives in Dalkeith, said: “When I went to the hospital to see him when he was born I remember holding him, but only because my husband put him on my knee.

“I am back to my old self now but those years took a big chunk out of my life.

“Now I just say, ‘Come on Jack, were going out’ and we do whatever we like. It is great.”

Mrs Fortune remembers the moment in September 2005 that she got the call to tell her her kidney transplant was to go ahead – thanks to the selfless act of a stranger joining the NHS organ donor register

She said: “It was 3am on a Sunday morning. Although I had prepared and hoped for it, the reality of the situation still came as a huge surprise. I had my bags packed ready for whenever but it was still such a shock.

“I even forgot how to detach my dialysis machine, something I had done hundreds of times before. I suppose I just couldn’t believe what was happening.”

She added: “When it comes to luck, I suppose my surname is very appropriate.”