Kidney transplant patient Lorraine Pooley is determined to help others after receiving the gift of life.
The 53-year-old has become a dedicated campaigner for renal patients and has spent much of her time this year raising awareness.
She campaigned during the British Transplant Games, spoke as part of the National Kidney Conference 2014 and has even been to Westminster with fellow patients, donors and carers.
Lorraine, of Chapel Street, Brinscall, said: “Organ donation has allowed me to have a voice this year.”
Lorraine was in renal failure due to polycystic kidney disease, a life-threatening hereditary condition that led to the death of her father, aged just 36, and other close relatives.
The condition caused so much fluid to build up in her body that Lorraine says she spent years looking as if they were pregnant.
She was given medication but in 2010, doctors told her they would have to remove one or both of her kidneys.
A kidney was removed and she had dialysis until a transplant was carried out using a kidney from her youngest sister, Melissa Wilding, on February 14, 2013.
The operation went well and Lorraine’s health improved, although she does still have the disease and complications.
Lorraine said: “Having the transplant from my sister has given me a better quality of life and it has enabled me, more than anything, to use my voice to help others in the same situation.
“However, my polycystic kidney disease is still there. It will always be that way.
“If anyone else wants to donate, know that not all patients are complicated.”
Exactly a year after the transplant, Lorraine held a party at Brinscall Athletics Club to celebrate the anniversary and support fund-raising appeal Kidneys For Life.
Among the guests were her family, her surgeon and friends made in hospital.
Since then, Lorraine has been committed to raising awareness of kidney disease and organ donation.
She said: “I knew National Transplant Week and the British Transplant Games were coming up.
“I was involved with a couple of charities and knew that they were going to be present or if they weren’t, I said I would do it.”
And it is her father who inspired her to speak out.
Lorraine said: “He instilled in me from a very young age that charity starts at home.
“He used to collect money for charities and me and my brother Paul used to go around Chorley and Leyland collecting money for charities. He was a community man.
“I was very close to my dad. I am who I am because of my dad and who he was.”
It has been a busy year for Lorraine.
She raised more money for Kidneys For Life when she was involved in organising a joint fund-raiser at the Rose And Crown pub in Chorley town centre.
In Jul during National Transplant Week, she urged people to tell their families if they wish to become organ donors, so they would be aware when they died.
During the week, her activities included manning a stand at St George’s Shopping Mall in Preston for Lancashire And South Cumbria Kidney Patient Association, communicating with people on social media, and eating a three-course meal for dialysis patients made by the head chef at Michael Caine’s Abode restaurant in Manchester.
Lorraine was went to Westminster with the British Kidney Patient Association to talk to a group of MPs about organ donation and calls for an “opt out” system.
She said: “It was great going there.
“I had a wonderful time. I met patients from all over the country– some were on dialysis, some had transplants, some were donors. We all shared our thoughts on organ donation.”
In August, Lorraine gave her support to the British Transplant Games in Bolton.
Representing Kidneys For Life, she helped with painting, drawing, a bouncy castle and loom bands for young transplantees and their siblings.
Lorraine said: “Spending the afternoon with those 40 children will stay with me forever.
“I deny anyone meeting these young, spirited, lovely, brave youngsters talking like me about their journeys not to sign the register.
“Plus the poignant chats I had with siblings and parents too living the diseases and their bravery in having to work around their loved one and the worry for the future.”
Lorraine, who is known as Purple Chick, has also appeared on the radio and in magazines and is regularly on social media, with nearly 1,500 followers on Twitter.
She is a voluntary patient advisor to the British Kidney Patient Association and a committee member for Lancashire And South Cumbria Kidney Patient Association.
In October, she held an organ donation drop-in session at Withnell Health Centre, which she hopes she will be able to roll out to other GP practices.
She was also a guest patient speaker at the National Kidney Federation Conference 2014 at the Hilton Hotel in Blackpool.
Last month, Lorraine attended the INVOLVE Health Conference 2014 to present a poster about her fistula awareness campaign on a stand for two days.
Lorraine has also celebrated personal achievements, including attending her daughter Nicola’s wedding and finally wearing motorcycle leathers again.
But the highlight been spending time with her four-year-old grandson Charlie.
She said: “I can’t lift him or carry him, but he has grown up with me being ill and I have missed out.
“To be able to enjoy him is amazing. It’s beautiful the relationship that we have.”
Lorraine will not be putting her feet up in 2015, as she hopes to do more face-to-face work in the community to spread her message.
She also has a blog where she shares her experiences, which can be found at purplechickchallenge.wordpress.com.