Merry Christmas From Pete McKee

Well it's safe to say that 2017 has been a pretty amazing year for me.

At the beginning of the year I was assessed at Leeds hospital to see if A) I was ill enough to be put on the transplant list and if so, B) I was fit enough to have the operation. Yeah, crazy I know!

A tense few weeks followed as I waited for my doctor to return from holiday. My case was then discussed with the team who decide who is or isn't eligible to be placed on the transplant list and I was told I would be contacted as soon as they had made a decision.

Fortunately, I received the first of the two most important phone calls in my life. The first, was my acceptance onto the list. You don't realise the weight you carry on your shoulders until it's been lifted.

Being on the list isn't the cure yet it does signal that the journey you are on is about to get more challenging but also has a potential destination. Oddly though, your life is put into a state of limbo as you wait for the second most important phone call of your life. It was hinted that I would spend 6 to 12 months on the waiting list before I got the call as my blood group was relatively uncommon; which I found out is actually a good thing! We laughed at that news as it was the first bit of good news my body had given me; all the other times I was unique for all the wrong reasons.

Then on May the 5th at 12:30am I got the call that was to save my life. All this was only possible because of the incredible skill and care of the NHS. They have saved my life and given me hope to face the future and dare to think I'll be well for some time to come.

I want to say thank you to my donor Mark and his wife and soul partner, for giving me and eight other people the opportunity to face the next year with hope.

I would also like to reserve a special THANK YOU to all of you for giving me strength and inspiration from your many many messages of love and support.

2017 was also the year I was able to welcome to the world my beautiful Granddaughter Pearl. She is the most amazing little bundle of love ever and I can't wait for us to have adventures.

I'll show her the joys of fishcake butties, Hendo's on meat 'n' tater pie, walks by the five weirs, the Botanical Gardens in spring and the wondrous beauty of the East Coast. We'll gaze over Surprise View stood on top of a millstone grit boulder and eat ice-cream bought from the van in the car park. If she's lucky we’ll spend a cold Saturday afternoon on the terraces with a bag of spice and a Bovril whilst I pull my hair out.

Christmas is a marker for a lot of people, it's a time to remember and reflect on loved ones no longer with us and also a time to rejoice and share our love with those around us.

I want to send my love out to you all and I hope you have a great Christmas and a New Year full of love and good health. I will see you in 2018 with something special. x

For Shaun Bloodworth 1966-2016 an inspiring person and friend.