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Man's organ donation is first by black person in Croydon for six years


A MAN remembered as "everyone's second son" is believed to be the first black person to donate organs in Croydon for six years after his death.

James Robotham, a logistics coordinator who lived in Cobden Road, South Norwood, with his mother and sister, died aged 40 after suffering a suspected seizure caused by alcohol withdrawal.

Speaking after the inquest into his death held last week, his sister Fiona Robotham, 36, said: "When we spoke to the organ donation nurse he told us we were the only black family to decide to donate in six years."

Mr Robotham's family now want to raise awareness of the importance of organ donation from black and minority ethnic communities (BME).

There are currently (as of December 1) 99 Croydon residents waiting for organ transplants, 37 of whom are black.

But there is a shortage of donors - nationally, only 36 per cent of families of eligible black donors consented to organ donation, compared to 63 per cent of white families.

Melanie Roberts, organ donation specialist nurse at Croydon Health Services NHS Trust, said individuals from BME communities are "more likely to suffer from conditions where organ donation is needed as part of treatment".

Guidance from NHS Blood and Transplant states organ matching is likely to be closer when donor and recipient are of the same ethnicity.

Paulette Robotham, Mr Robotham's mother, 66, said she and her daughter agreed to donate James's organs because he was a "giver".

"He would have given his last penny to anyone," she said.

Ms Robotham said his organs went to people needing transplants, apart from his liver, which went to research.

She said: "It's something we think he would have wanted to do. He liked to help people so we hope he would have been happy we gave his organs."

On December 27, Mr Robotham's birthday, his friends are holding a football match at Club Langley, Beckenham, to raise money for Donor Family Network, chosen by Mr Robotham's family.

"By supporting this charity we would like to bring awareness to ethnic minority organ donation," said Ms Robotham.

"We were happy with how James was treated in relation to his organs by the transplant team," she added.

Ms Roberts said: "Signing up to the organ donation register, and letting your family know that you have done so, means that you can help someone live on after your death. This is particularly important for the BME community."

The football match is being organised by Mr Robotham's childhood friend, Chris Shannon and his wife Sarah.

Mr Shannon, 38, from Beckenham, met Mr Robotham at St Joseph's College, in Beulah Hill, Upper Norwood, when they were nine and 11-years-old.

The friends also worked together for a direct mail company on Purley Way for 13 years.

At 6ft 3in tall, Mr Robotham's friends nicknamed him the "gentle giant", because he was "soft as anything", said Mr Shannon.

"It has been like losing a brother," said Mr Shannon. "Everyone loved him. Everyone had him as their second son."

"He was a really kind, giving person. He was always there for you no matter what you needed, you could just give him a call and he would be there in a flash. He'd do anything for anyone."

The friends, who went to their first pub together, were Liverpool fans but still went to Crystal Palace games.

Mr Shannon said they played football as children and adults so Mr Robotham's friends decided to hold a match to remember him.

Mr Robotham was also a talented athlete with Blackheath Harriers, while Mr Shannon also remembers his love of garage and dance music - shown by his habit of carrying a bag of records around with him.

"He wouldn't know where he was going to play them but he would carry them around with him," Mr Shannon said.

Mr Robotham's friends have already raised more than £1,000 for Donor Family Network.

The football match will kick-off at 12.30pm on December 27 at Club Langley, BR3 3SR. There will be food, a raffle, darts and more. To donate visit: www.justgiving.com/jamesrobotham

Man's organ donation is first by black person in Croydon for six years

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