APPEALS: NATASHA TIWARI – AWAITING ORGAN TRANSPLANT
MODEL, SINGER/SONGWRITER SHARES HER STORY WITH ACLT ON WHY SHE SUPPORTS THE NHS NEW APPROACH TO PRESUMED CONSENT FOR ORGAN DONATION…
Since the age of eleven, 32-year-old Natasha Tiwari from Stoke Newington, London has suffered with multiple health complications which many would say is enough for one person’s lifetime. From being diagnosed with diabetes whilst at secondary school, receiving dialysis over several years in order to maintain her life, undergoing a dual organ transplant to replace her damaged pancreas and failing kidneys, learning to cope with losing her sight completely, having her career as an international model and Sony signed music artist brought to a cruel halt due to her health issues, Natasha is now facing YET another setback; the need to have a third organ transplant to replace the kidney she previously received as it’s no longer working. Natasha has been on the Organ Donor Register waiting list since 2014.
Natasha is appealing for more ethnic minorities to join the Organ Donor Register to help save her life and others living with a similar situation to hers where a lifesaving organ transplant is required.
Growing up Natasha was an extremely active child. She attended ballet, dance, tap and street dance classes a few times a week, YET she was obese and no one understood why. Over a short period of time Natasha noticed a change; she was noticeably thirsty all the time. Unbeknown to Natasha and those around her, she had been suffering with Ketoacidosis (a potentially fatal condition which occurs in diabetics, caused by a lack of insulin in the body).
Aged 17, Natasha was spotted by a model scout. Almost immediately Natasha was signed. The new career path left Natasha feeling positive about her health and gave her something optimistic to focus on. During the same period, Natasha signed a solo record deal with Sony. Her new life saw her juggling her modelling and singing, travelling back and forth to Copenhagen to record her debut album.
In 2003 Natasha started to receive regular dialysis and remained on it whilst waiting for a transplant.
On 14th February 2008 Natasha finally received the call she had been waiting for; a suitable pancreas & kidney had been found and they were ready to go ahead with her long awaited transplant. The following week Natasha was ready to receive her organ transplants. April 2008, Natasha was discharged from hospital with a 24-hour care team.
One year post her transplant; Natasha’s body began to reject the kidney. She was prescribed with strong anti-rejection medication through IV.
Fast forward to April 2014, Natasha was told to start dialysis as the anti-rejection medications were not having an effect, her donated kidney failed to work.
Today Natasha remains on dialysis, receiving treatment three times a week. She will stay on dialysis until she receives a second kidney transplant from a living or deceased donor. Natasha has been told she has a 4-5 year wait.
Natasha says: “To ask a family member at such a hugely distressing time to remove an organ from a deceased loved one is an enormous burden. Making this type of decision at such a distressing time could easily mean the choice to donate is dismissed, due to the raw emotions being felt. NHS’s new approach to presume consent from deceased families for organ donation reduces the burden on the deceased’s family. It also potentially saves the life of someone in need, like me. Giving me a lifeline to overcome my health battles and to live a healthier and happier life.”
Natasha’s Jamaican and Guyanese heritage; means it’s unlikely there will be a matched donor on the organ donor register. The wait for a suitable matched kidney donor to be found will take longer than most. Black and Asian people wait up to a year longer on the kidney transplant waiting list than other patients.
To support her appeal Natasha has penned a track entitled ‘Heard the word’, which tells the journey of her health from her younger years until now. Click here to watch the video.
Natasha adds: “I hope people reading my story will feel inspired to join the NHS Organ Donor Register, support the amazing work of the ACLT in order to help save the many lives being lost in the community, simply due to people not stepping up to grab opportunities when presented to them, where they can help save the life of someone else. There is enough room for everyone to do their part. The more people who read my story and share it, the more chances WE, have to save lives.”
People can make a difference by registering on the NHS Organ Donor Register and informing their family of their wishes. Please visit organdonation.nhs.uk or call 0300 123 23 23 and quote code 2209.