Last December young dad Craig Boden was facing the prospect of not living long enough to witness the birth of his second child.
But a life-saving liver transplant proved the greatest Christmas gift of all - and now he is backing The Star’s Gift of Life campaign, urging other people to sign up to be a donor this festive season.
Craig, aged 31, of Owlthorpe, Sheffield, has made the plea to mark the one-year anniversary of the operation which brought him back from the brink of death from primary sclerosing cholangitis - a rare condition which causes inflammation and scarring of the bile ducts.
He is one of 37 people in South Yorkshire whose lives have been saved through organ donation this year. But 217 remain on the waiting list.
Craig said: “They gave me a year to live. Now I’d say I am 90 per cent there. Life is totally different and I can’t stress enough what a brilliant gift it is to be a donor.”
The dad-of-two was first diagnosed with the condition more than two years ago. After 18 months he was put on the transplant waiting list.
A huge blow came when his brother Scott, 22, and sister Pamela, 25, were found to be incompatible when they were tested to see if they could donate part of their livers in ‘live transplant’ procedures.
With his fiancée Rachel Draper, 30, heavily pregnant, time was running out.
Craig said: “I was so ill I stopped eating. The medication I was taking had no effect and there was nothing else they could do.
“I was on edge all the time, every time the phone rang I’d pray it was the call.”
His prayers were answered on December 5 last year when his phone rang as he was sitting in his car - and less than four hours later he was on the operating table at St James University Hospital in Leeds.
Another part of the same liver Craig was given went to a baby girl.
Craig said: “That liver didn’t just save my life, it saved two.
“People in Sheffield don’t talk about their wishes after they die. Organ donation is so important. It has given me my life back.”
His remarkable recovery the past 12 months has seen the former car mechanic become a dad for the second time, and re-train as a mortgage advisor.
After spending last Christmas recovering from his op, Craig is looking forward this year to celebrating on Wednesday with his daughters Lily, two, and 11-month-old Belle.
He said: “This time I can be on proper dad duty!”
To join the NHS Organ Donor Register, visit www.organdonation.nhs.uk or call 0300 123 23 23.