Hunger Games actor Sam Claflin's Norwich father Mark calls for more people to become organ donors, seven years after life-changing transplant
PUBLISHED: 07:30 13 June 2017 | UPDATED: 13:25 13 June 2017
Seven years ago, on his way to work, Mark Claflin received the phone call for which he had spent 18 months waiting.
It was one which would change his and his family’s lives for the better, but one which only came because a teenager had tragically died.
On June 10, 2010, Mr Claflin, from New Costessey, underwent a life-saving kidney and pancreas transplant at Addenbrooke’s Hospital, in Cambridge, with organs taken from the 14-year-old donor.
Today, seven years on, he has urged others to “change lives” and bring positive out of tragedy by becoming an organ donor.
Mr Claflin, father of The Hunger Games actor Sam Claflin, was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes when he was 13, a condition he describes as “brutal”, and one which saw him suffer a heart attack aged 33 and left him partially-sighted, with a host of health problems.
When his kidneys started to fail, the 57-year-old began dialysis, until doctors suggested he should go on the transplant waiting list. Eighteen months later, the call came.
“I was actually walking to work,” he said. “My wife was in Portsmouth on a trip with her school and I got the call, so I just left the house and went straight to Addenbrooke’s.”
The joy of news that could change his life was tempered by the tragic circumstances which had made it possible.
He said: “It’s a really unusual thing to go through. It was actually really emotional and it tore me apart. When I was told he was a 14-year-old, it crushed me.
“We are parents ourselves, so we were just thinking about what they must be going through and it was really tough.”
He said he had since written, via the transplant team, to the boy’s family, something he described as the “hardest thing I’ve ever done”.
But seven years on, Mr Claflin, a former finance manager, said the organs were functioning well and that, while he still has health problems, said the transplant had saved his life.
“I can do things now, I can still enjoy life and I can be around my family,” he said, before thanking his “amazing” wife Susan for her support.
Encouraging others to become donors, he said: “It changes lives. The thing is, you never know when you’ll need it. You could be perfectly healthy and then something happens overnight which means you could need a transplant.
“It’s easy to say in hindsight, but life can change so quickly. People should think ‘would I take an organ’?
“I think if the worst happened and someone is prepared to take an organ, they should be prepared to give one.”