When it comes to defying the odds, Ripon resident Claire Corps is a seasoned pro.
Now 40 years since the ‘Gazette started following her incredible journey, Claire is as inspirational as ever - working as a research scientist in transplantation, campaigning to raise national awareness, and even squeezing in a bit of panto in her spare time...
We first met Claire when she was 11 years old, before her kidney transplant the following year, in 1980. Now approaching her 51st birthday, Claire is living life to the full, and overcoming adversity the only way she knows how - with determination, flair, and a big smile on her face.
Even faced with a liver transplant and two brain haemorrhages later on in her life, Claire just got on with things and showed remarkable resilience. She is passionate about sharing her story to show others that there is hope, and as a research scientist in transplantation, it’s not just hope that Claire is creating, it’s real change and pioneering scientific research.
Claire said: “If people hadn’t done the research before, then I wouldn’t be here, if I can do research and help people in the future, it’s all worthwhile.
“I don’t know what tomorrow brings, I don’t know how long these organs are going to last, but life is there to live and make the most of. You don’t know what tomorrow holds, but I’ve lived life to the full, and make the most of every opportunity.”
Claire goes to the transplant games every year, where she has found a close-knit community that’s become a lifeline to so many.
Claire said: “It’s great, you go there and you’re not alone. I take part in the games because I can. In 2019 it’s 39 years since I had my transplant, and I’m still going strong.”
Among the many strings to Claire’s bow, including numerous qualifications and roles on national committees relating to her field of expertise, she’s also campaigned for people to join the donor register to save lives.
Claire said: “If it wasn’t for donors, I would have been dead and buried several times over. It’s important that conversations about the donor register are normalised, and that people feel comfortable to discuss their wishes with relatives.
“I’ve lost too many friends along the way. But this can save lives.” As a practising Catholic who goes to St Wilfrid’s Church, Claire said prayer has meant a lot to her over the years, and she’s had prayers from every faith during her hospital stays and in everyday life.
Claire’s praised the close-knit Ripon community for their support, and is passionate about continuing to raise awareness both locally and nationally.
Panto's a good medicine
As Claire says, things have moved on immensely since she had her kidney transplant. And the medical and scientific advances have been truly remarkable - Claire is also leading the way in her research into organ preservation for transplants.
But as well as all of these advances, hobbies and interests can have an important role to play in enhancing someone’s life and giving them a more positive outlook.
Last year, Claire performed in panto with the brilliant Boroughbridge Hightimers in their production of Little Red Riding Hood. She said: “It’s one of the best pantos we’ve done, I love playing character roles. It’s so much fun, when you get on stage you’re somebody else - you’ve got to put the rest of your life on hold while you’re on stage for that hour or so - it’s escapism.
“We are all really good friends at the Boroughbridge Hightimers, and the atmosphere in this production was really great, I really enjoyed it.”
Transplant Games and donor campaign
The British Transplant Games aim to demonstrate the benefits of transplantation, encouraging transplant patients to regain fitness, whilst increasing public awareness of the need for more people to join the NHS Organ Donation Register and discuss their wishes with their families.
They also seek to thank and celebrate donor families and the gift of life. The games are the flagship project of the Transplant Sport charity, and it’s become a very popular event.
According to the NHS, in the UK, around 6,000 people are waiting for an organ transplant, and three people a day die in need of a transplant due to a shortage of people being willing to donate organs.
To find out more about the NHS organ donor campaign, visit their website: www.organdonation.nhs.uk/news-and-campaigns/organ-donation-campaigns Email firstname.lastname@example.org to share your Ripon news, or call 01423 707505.