In August 2004 Philip Cairnduff returned to Belfast from a Habitat for Humanity building project in Africa very sick and very jaundiced. 5 days later, after being transferred to Kings College Hospital in London, he suffered acute liver failure. Doctors gave him eight hours to live unless a suitable organ became available for transplant. Fortunately one did. He received the transplant that saved his life less than a week after his 18th birthday.
Before his transplant Philip was a Sixth Form student at Belfast Inst who had successfully completed AS examinations and was looking forward to starting his A2 year. Outside school he was heavily involved in the life and work of his church. His sporting life amounted to little more than cross country runs at school on games afternoons.
After his transplant Philip became an Advanced Motorist, completed a French and Spanish degree at Coleraine University (he lived abroad in Belgium and Spain during his 3rd year), competed regularly in the British Transplant Games, represented Team GB at the World Games in Argentina in 2015 and became the first liver recipient to complete the Belfast Marathon in May 2016. He ran the marathon in memory of his donor who would have been 60 this year had she lived.
He says: Our lives are shaped by the people we meet but among the most significant people in my life is a family I’ve never met. Whoever they are and wherever they are, I live each day in gratitude to them and hope that they would be proud of all my achievements.
Please join the organ donor register, tell your family and friends and offer the gift of life to someone like Philip.
It is a gift that will be cherished.