A Fylde teenager has given an impassioned plea urging people to join the donor register as he desperately waits for a heart transplant.
Just months ago Joe Higgins, 18, of Lindebreck Lane, Poulton, was diagnosed with cardio-myopathy – where the heart muscle becomes enlarged, leading to it eventually becoming weaker.
Joe said unless he finds a suitable donor it could be just a few months before he dies – and has encouraged anyone considering to join the donor register, to do so immediately.
He added: “I just want to raise awareness.
“Get on the organ donor list and go through with it. Do not hesitate.
“I would be dead without the drugs I am on, but I can’t stay on them forever.
“I am second on the organ donor list for the Manchester area, but as I am in the O-type blood group and am 6ft 2in, it is a case of waiting for a heart which is the right match.”
The former Baines School student found about the condition after a routine scan earlier this year.
He admitted the illness has left his parents, Chris and Marie, as well as sisters Gaby, 24, and Chessie, 23 “shocked.”
He added: “In a few months I will be dead without surgery.
“It has been a shock for the family. They all thought I was fit and well.
“We are a close family and have a strong bond.
“Before I was diagnosed I loved playing football and was into BMX. I do not know where the condition has come from.”
Joe said he was due to start a job with Victrex Plc based in Thornton, but said he now must wait in hospital for a heart transplant.
He hopes his story can encourage others to help those in need.
A spokesman for the Organ Donor Register said joining was easy for those interested.
He said: “Putting your name on the NHS Organ Donor Register makes everyone aware of your wishes and makes it easier for them to agree to your donation.
“Millions of people carry donor cards or are on the register.
“The easiest way is to join online at www.organdonation.nhs.uk
“When you register it is important that you tell those closest to you about your decision.
“Even if your name is on the register, the person closest to you in life will be asked to confirm that you had not changed your mind.
“Putting your name on the register demonstrates your consent to the use of your organs for transplantation.
“You will be sent a donor card when you join the Organ Donor Register, if you are already on the register but haven’t got a card you can request one by ringing the Organ Donor Line on 0300 123 23 23 between 7am and 11pm seven days a week.”