Donor needed to save man's life

PUBLISHED: 09:22 04 August 2014

Maria, Marco and Eric Papi.

Maria, Marco and Eric Papi.

Archant

HE HAS been defying the medical odds for most of his life - but Marco Papi now needs help to win his latest fight for survival.

At just two years old, Marco was diagnosed with tuberous sclerosis – a condition which causes regular epileptic seizures, and has seen his kidneys slowly fail – and experts warned parents Eric and Maria Papi that he would be unlikely to live past his tenth birthday.

Although Marco has defied that gloomy prognosis many times over, now, at the age of 33, he is facing a fresh battle.

His condition means his kidneys are deteriorating fast.

Learning difficulties resulting from his illness mean dialysis treatment is unlikely to be possible – so an organ donor needs to be found in the next six months if doctors are to save him.

His 66-year-old father Eric, of The Maltings in Worle, volunteered to contribute a kidney, but although he is still undergoing tests, doctors say he is unlikely to be a suitable candidate because of his age and other medical considerations.

Since Marco has no siblings or extended family, hopes may rest on a living donor coming forward.

Eric said: “To find a living donor is difficult. I volunteered, as I would happily give him any part of me.

“I don’t care what happens to me. I would give him anything to have a longer life – I have lived my life already.”

One silver lining for the family is that Marco, who lives in supported accommodation in Clevedon, is close to Bristol’s Southmead Hospital.

It is one of few hospitals in the UK, and the only one in the West Country, which offers transplants to learning-disabled people – so Marco still has hope, while others in a similar situation may not.

Marco’s mother Maria – who says he ‘has been through a lot, but always comes through smiling’ – has appealed for help to end the ‘nightmare’.

She said: “It’s just so horrendous. Marco’s been fighting all his life, one thing or another, and I have fought with him and for him; I have been his voice for 33 years.

“I’ve always managed to find something that has helped him, but this is now totally out of my control.

“That’s the hardest thing, to wake up in the morning and know there’s nothing I can do about it. It’s the biggest nightmare for a parent.

“Marco is very lucky that during his lifetime he has come across some very exceptional people, medics, carer support workers, people running activities and friends. Because of them he has been able to live a very happy fulfilling life. I hope somewhere there is another very special person who can and wants to help him. I do realise how much this is asking and how much the odds are stacked against him, but it is his only hope.”

Last year, North Bristol NHS Trust completed 143 transplants. More than a third were from living donors, and eight were classed as ‘altruistic’ donations, where donor and recipient were unknown to one another.

To find out more about organ donations, visit www.organdonation.nhs.uk or call 01173 236380.

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