Tributes paid to organ donor crusador ‘T’ Sandeman-Charles

Theresa Sandeman-Charles

Theresa Sandeman-Charles - Credit: Archant

A woman who had been battling one of the world’s rarest lung diseases died last Friday – 12 months after inspiring more than 10,000 people to sign up to the organ donor register.

Theresa Sandeman-Charles, known as ‘T’, passed away peacefully at Papworth Hospital.

She was 54.

“Her whole campaign was not only to get people to sign up but to ask themselves the question: ‘What do I want to leave behind?’ An organ is the greatest gift one can give,” husband Roy told the Reporter.

Hundreds of tributes poured in to praise the bravery of T on the Facebook page for her campaign, Save5, which she launched in 2010 after being diagnosed with two incurable lung diseases.

One of only eight people in the world to be diagnosed with idiopathic pleyroparenchymal fibroelastosis, T set out on a mission to get 10,000 extra donors to put their names on the register before she died – an astonishing feat which she achieved last December.

T, of Duddenhoe End, was inspired not only by her own illness, but also by her sister Sue, who donated a kidney to a friend around the same time she had a lung biopsy, in October 2009.

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“I was truly inspired by Sue – she had literally saved and transformed her friend’s life,” T had written on the Save5 website.

“I started to think: ‘What can I do, that will make a difference?’”

A difference T certainly did make, when she launched Save5 soon after her diagnosis. The name refers to the fact one person is able to donate organs to save up to five lives: kidneys, heart, liver, lungs, pancreas and the small bowel can all be transplanted.

A transplant was the only chance of survival for the former cookery demonstrator, and though she knew her chances were slim, she was determined that others should not die needlessly.

T’s final post on the page, written on December 5, does not speak of despair, but of gratitude.

“Thank you once again my friends. Enjoy your life and make the most of it. Lots of love and hugs always,” she wrote.

To read more about T’s campaign, which had received 10,319 signatures at the time of her death, or to sign up to the organ register via her website, go to