Best friends co-founded charity football club to help raise awareness of organ donation
Colin Dixon, 37, from Penarth co-founded charity football club, Gobaith Cymru FC, to raise awareness of organ donation in Wales after best friend, Ywain Shakespeare, had a life-changing liver transplant.
They’ve raised almost £850 since they began in 2017, most recently raising £350 at the latest match against the North Wales Dragons.
The duo’s goal is to create an annual event to support families going through the organ donation process, by fundraising for local charities which help those like Ywain and his family.
Ywain Shakespere, 32, was diagnosed with a liver disease called Biliary Atresia when he was only 8 days old.
After bouts of ill health and multiple operations, aged 31, Ywain was placed on the organ donation list and in May 2017 underwent a nine-hour operation to receive a liver transplant.
“After my operation it was a struggle. I had to push through my recovery to see my son’s birth, just 10 days post-transplant. All I ever wanted was to be able to do all the regular Dad things and without this transplant that would never have happened.
“Another dream of mine was to get back on a football pitch and play a full 11 v 11 game, so together with my best mate Colin, we decided to bring the two things together and set up Gobaith Cymru FC.
“Our goal is to continue with the club and eventually develop into our own rehab outreach charity in the next few years.”
Gobaith Cymru FC’s aim is to support transplant survivors partaking in sport by providing a support group where people can share experiences, advice and help, while keeping active.
“Seeing Ywain and his young family go through such terrible heartache was painful to watch, and as his best friend, I wanted to do something to make sure as many people as possible have a second chance.”
In 2017-18, five families overruled their loved one’s known Organ Donor Registration to donate and in the 49 cases where deemed consent applied, there were 16 cases where the family did not support deemed consent. The football club wants to spread the message and encourage people to have the chat with their loved ones.
“Charity games are a great way of bringing people together, having a laugh, raising money but also raising awareness of how important organ donation is.
“Even if we don’t win on the field, it feels like a win when we raise money and get lots of families to have the chat about organ donation.”
Organ Donation Wales is urging the people of Wales to talk to their families about this important subject. If more people have the chat with their families about their organ donation decision even more lives would be saved.