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Brave Teddy highlights need for ‘Gift of Life’

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Adam Hughes: Just after his transplant.

Adam Hughes: Just after his transplant.

FOR Jess Evans and Mike Houlston from Cardiff, the birth of twin boys Teddy and Noah on April 22 2014 was one of both heartbreak and hope. Teddy was born with a rare yet fatal condition – anencephaly – but his parents were determined his short life would not be in vain. Once the diagnosis was confirmed during pregnancy, the parents discussed and wanted, if possible, for his organs to be donated. The family managed to spend precious time with him before he passed away and Teddy became the youngest organ donor in the UK. In the last ten years, 39 babies younger than two years old have become organ donors helping to save the lives of strangers.

As his twin Noah celebrated his first birthday the family used the anniversary to mark the occasion when his brother Teddy became a hero. His kidneys were transplanted to help save the life of another person.

Jess, 28, said: “Knowing that part of your loved one is living on in someone else is comforting. If it stops any other person going through the same thing then this can only be good. Teddy´s life had a very important role to play. Unless you have been through the same thing or know someone affected it´s hard to understand how important organ donation is.”

Mike, 30, added: “We want Teddy´s story to inspire others and help break any taboos people might still hold regarding organ donation. Organ donation wasn´t prominent in my life growing up and while I was up for it I never got round to doing anything about it. I´m sure there are many more men like me who think the same! I want to spread the word as much as possible about how organ donation saves lives, and that we should all speak to each other about our wishes. Without that discussion it is a very difficult conversation to have when it comes out of the blue. Put simply, you should ask yourself the question “Would you take an organ if you needed it?” Everyone would do so if the truth were told so we hope what Teddy did can educate people and prompt them to get talking.”

April 22 2015, the one year anniversary of Teddy’s heroism, was also a personal milestone for myself, it marked six months to the day since I received my kidney transplant and got to experience first hand the ‘gift of life’. In April 2013 I was admitted to hospital with symptoms of cramps, breathlessness, headaches, nosebleeds and chest pains. A simple blood pressure test at the doctor’s surgery had indicated a blood pressure reading of 230/170, high by anyone’s standards, but stratospheric for a 25 year-old.

This was the start of a three week stay in hospital. I had suffered Chronic Renal Failure, my blood readings were so dangerously unbalanced that I was told I may not have survived a fortnight longer. My blood pressure had been so high for so long that my heart’s muscular walls had doubled in size, I was seriously ill. Although I knew I hadn’t been feeling right for a few months, my decline from being a fit and healthy individual to being registered on the transplant waiting list was swift.

For nearly two years I was in a daily routine of medications, injections and ten hours of dialysis which took place overnight. I was unable to eat almost all of the food I liked and travel, which had been one of my main interests, was made almost impossible through the sheer amount of equipment and supplies I would have to take with me in order to survive.

For me the only option was a transplant and with an average waiting time for a kidney of between three and five years I was incredibly fortunate to have received a match in just under two years. I am one of the lucky ones and the need for donors has never been more urgent. More than 8,000 people in the UK need an organ transplant. Despite the huge advances in medicine and the great success of transplant operations, people are still dying while waiting.

There is a critical shortage of organs and the gap between the number of people waiting for a transplant and the number of organs donated is increasing. One donor can save the life of several people, restore the sight of two others and improve the quality of life of many more. The more people who pledge to donate their organs and tissue after their death, the more people stand to benefit.

In a recent survey 90% of people said they supported organ donation and almost everyone would accept a transplant if they or their loved one needed one. Yet only a third of people in the UK have registered to be an organ donor. Last year, over 40% of families refused to allow organ donation to go ahead, sometimes even when their loved one was a registered donor.

In September 2013 the Welsh Assembly passed what it described as it’s ‘most significant’ legislation to date. From December 1, Wales will be the first UK country to introduce a soft opt-out system for organ and tissue donation. The new law aims to make it easier for people in Wales to become organ donors. From this date, if you have not registered a decision to opt-in or opt-out of organ donation, you will be treated as having no objection to being an organ donor. This is called deemed consent. Thus meaning that if you did not want to donate your organs then you would have to ‘opt-out’.

In 2012/13, 36 people died in Wales whilst waiting for an organ transplant as a donor could not be found. In 2011/12 30,000 people died in Wales. Around 250 of these died in a way that would have allowed them to become a potential organ donor. But only 67 people became organ donors. Through the ‘opt out’ legislation it is hoped that waiting times for people requiring organ transplants and the number of preventable deaths can be reduced significantly.

It is rare for families to be in the awful situation where their loved one could be a potential donor. In 43% of cases where organ donation is possible, families say no to donation because they don’t know whether their loved one wanted to be a donor. When the new system is in place, families will know their loved one could have opted out if they didn’t want to be a donor. Therefore by proceeding with organ donation, they can be reassured that they are carrying out the decision of their loved one.

The law will mean if you support organ donation but simply haven’t got around to signing the Organ Donor Register, you won’t need to. As someone who has experienced first hand the positive impact organ donation can have upon a person’s life, the law change is an extremely positive move. Despite this I would still encourage people to sign up to be an organ donor. My message is a simple one: if you would accept an organ, surely you should be prepared to be a donor. Sign up to the NHS Organ Donor Register and tell your relatives that you want to donate. You can do this online by following the links on http://www.organdonation. nhs.uk or by calling 0300 123 23 23.

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Save Our Sands memorial unveiled at Pembrey Country Park

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A MEMORIAL has been unveiled at Pembrey Country Park to commemorate a hard-fought campaign to save Pembrey sands for public use.

Between 1969 and 1971, the Save Our Sands campaign was launched by the local community against Ministry of Defence plans to put a gunnery and missile proofing centre in the area.

Now 50 years on, in honour of all those that battled to protect the shoreline for the enjoyment of generations to come, seven standing stones representing both the individual groups that battled, and the seven miles of Cefn Sidan beach, have been erected within the park.

It also includes a plaque telling the story of the campaign, and why the country park was created.

Campaigners and their friends and families had been concerned that the story of the great battle would be forgotten and began raising money through various fundraising events for a permanent memorial.

The group, formerly known as SOS@50 (it was formally dissolved in August 2019), said: “Pembrey Country Park would not exist as we know it without this historic and hard-fought campaign which was waged throughout the locality; 15,000 acres of land seaward of the railway line between Pembrey and Kidwelly would have become a gunnery and missile proofing centre prohibiting leisure activities along the shoreline between the Gower coast and Tenby.

“Without the immense fight waged against the incumbent government of the time and the Ministry of Defence, we would have been subjected to live – and probably and continue to be living – in a very different environment than the one which we are privileged to enjoy today.”

Pembrey Country Park has also launched an Augmented Reality Historic Trail which takes you back to hear all about what went on during WW1 and WW2. To download search ‘Pembrey Historical Trail’ on the ‘App Store’ for iphones or ‘Google Store’ for android phones.

Cabinet Member for Cabinet Member for Regeneration, Leisure, Culture and Tourism Cllr Gareth John said: “We are extremely fortunate to have Pembrey Country Park here in Carmarthenshire. With its 500 acres of glorious woodlands to explore, seven miles of golden sandy beach, and lots of activities for all the family to enjoy, it’s the perfect day out.

“But it is so important that we remember the history of the park, and all those people who fought to save our sands, as without them, we would not have the park that we know and love today.

“I am delighted that this memorial has been put in place to tell this amazing story and triumph.”

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20mph speed limits in Wales ‘will protect pedestrians and save money’

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SENEDD members will vote on Welsh Government plans to introduce 20mph as a standard speed limit across Wales on Tuesday (Jul 12).

The plans intend to shift to a default speed limit of 20mph from the current 30mph in most residential roads and other busy streets.

If it passes, the new law is expected to come into force from September 17, 2023.

The policy aims to reduce the number of road traffic collisions, improve air quality and noise pollution, and encourage the shift away from car use.

Research and pilot trials in eight areas across Wales have been regarded as a success by Welsh ministers.

The government estimates that after an initial £33 million is spent on the change, it will be offset by a saving of £58m in reduced use of emergency services and hospital admissions over 30 years.

Supporters of the move say that pedestrians are 40% less likely to die when hit by a car travelling at 20mph compared with one travelling at 30mph.

Dr Sarah Jones, consultant in environmental public health at Public Health Wales, said: “Travelling at 20 mph has been shown to reduce the risk of crashing and the severity of crashes that do still happen.

“It also produces less noise pollution and reduces fuel consumption. It encourages people to walk and cycle, helping to fight obesity and improve mental well-being.

“All of these are likely to contribute to improvements in health and reduction in the demands for health services, which will help the NHS recovery from Covid.”

However, not everybody is in favour of the change. The law is likely to be opposed by the Welsh Conservatives.

Sam Rowlands, MS for North Wales, has called on residents to voice their concerns about the plans.

Mr Rowlands said: “I met with local councillor Adie Drury and residents in Buckley, this morning who are extremely frustrated at the pilot scheme which has led to roads through the town having a 20mph speed limit instead of 30mph.

“They are quite rightly very concerned as they believe that pollution is increasing because cars have to drive in a lower gear and wait longer at traffic lights, there have also been more accidents and the cost of the scheme is thought to be in the region of £33 million across Wales which would be better spent on more teachers, doctors and nurses.

“The trial has certainly caused a lot of problems for people living in Buckley and I am angry on their behalf as there does appear to be a lack of public awareness around these changes.

“I do support letting councils put 20mph speed limits outside schools, hospitals and other areas where evidence shows it’s a benefit, but a blanket 20mph speed limit across urban roads in Wales is just not right.”

Stephen Edwards, chief executive of Living Streets, who advocates a walking based approach to travel, said: “This would be life-changing legislation because slower speeds will improve the places where we live, work and go to school.

“It’s simple: slower speeds save lives – and I urge Members of the Senedd to support the 20mph in the vote on 12 July and help make our streets and pavements safe and accessible for everyone in our communities.”

Christine Boston, director of sustainably travel organisation Sustrans Cymru, said: “Sustrans Cymru joins Living Streets and Cycling UK in calling for Members of the Senedd to support the proposals, because 20mph defaults will help make communities across Wales safer and more attractive places to walk, wheel and cycle.

“We believe that everyone in Wales should have access to safe streets. Making 20mph default limits in our communities will help to reduce the dominance of motor vehicles whilst creating opportunities for social interaction, creating happier and healthier places.

“We want communities that are built for safety rather than speed.”

Commenting, Welsh Shadow Minister for Transport, Natasha Ashgar MS, said: “The Welsh Conservatives are not against introducing 20mph speed limits outside schools, playgrounds, places of worship and high streets, but a blanket roll-out is quite frankly ludicrous.

“With a price tag of more than £32 million, is this really money well spent at a time when the Labour Government should be focused on tackling the big issues at hand such as the cost-of-living? I don’t think it is, and I am sure residents across the country will be thinking the exact same.

“This is yet another diktat imposed by Labour from Cardiff Bay.

“Speed limits like this should be decided by councils in their local areas, not top-down by Labour ministers. Let’s give local people the power over their communities, the very people who know their roads best.”

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Police appeal following assault allegation

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DYFED-POWYS Police is investigating an allegation of assault which occurred on Erw Road, Llanelli in the early hours of Saturday morning, July 2, 2022.

A man received injuries which required hospital treatment.

The suspect is described as a white male, in his late 50’s, about 5ft 6inches tall, a slim build and a bald head.

Anyone who witnessed the incident or anyone with information that could help officers with their investigation is asked to report it to Dyfed-Powys Police, either online at: https://bit.ly/DPPContactOnline, by emailing 101@dyfed-powys.police.uk, or by calling 101. 

If you are deaf, hard of hearing, or speech impaired text the non-emergency number on 07811 311 908. Quote reference: DP-20220702-030.

Alternatively, contact the independent charity Crimestoppers anonymously by calling 0800 555111, or visiting crimestoppers-uk.org

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