Lilian scoops health awards hero honour

Lillian Irvine from Galashiels, who was given the Unsung Hero award at the Scottish Health Awards 2013.
Lillian Irvine from Galashiels, who was given the Unsung Hero award at the Scottish Health Awards 2013.

A Galashiels woman has paid tribute to the organ donors who transformed her life after being honoured at the Scottish Health Awards.

Lilian Irvine scooped the Unsung Hero award, but immediately thanked those who had provided her with two kidneys.

She said: “The donors who allowed me to live are the unsung heroes. So many people across the country make the most generous decision to help others live, and people don’t know who they are.

“I needed two kidney transplants – my first when I was just 17 – and will never be able to thank my donors enough for giving me the gift of life.”

Lilian, a smoking cessation adviser, has worked for the NHS for 24 years and was recognised for her fundraising work to establish and expand a dialysis unit in the BGH. Prior to her second transplant in 1987, Lilian had to travel to Edinburgh three times a week for dialysis and wanted to establish a facility locally.

She formed the Border Kidney Patients Trust and a year later had raised over £100,000, enabling a three-bed dialysis unit to open in March 1989. Lilian’s fundraising topped £250,000, with a 12-bed unit now in place. The original unit is named after her.

She said: “My work with the trust was about giving something back. When people saw how ill I was, everyone in the area got behind the cause and together we helped create a service which is improving the lives of those living with renal problems.”

Jacques Kerr, lead clinician in the BGH’s emergency department, won the renowned Doctor Award and the Critical Care Outreach Team were named as Quality Champion of the Year.

John Raine, NHS Borders chairman, said: “It must be encouraging for patients and the public to know that Borders NHS staff are up there with the best in Scotland.”