Thursday, 20 March 2014

In the News

Throughout my transplant journey Rob and I have been keen to take opportunities to promote organ donation and the benefits of transplant and we have tried to keep our campaign for more organ donors in the news locally whenever we can. This is a cause very dear to my heart, not only because of my own life saving transplant and the arduous wait I had to endure because of the lack of organ donors, but because I have personal friends who are still facing the same predicament and there are still thousands of people waiting for a new chance in life like myself.

There are circa 10,000 people waiting on the transplant list; 3 people die each day while they wait; over 90% of the population would take an organ if they needed one, yet only 30% or so have officially signed up to the organ donor register; most people are in favour of organ donation and just haven't got round to officially signing up; many people do not share their decision that they wish to donate their organs with their families, leading to a difficult and heart breaking decision having to be made at a most harrowing time and often ending in refusal to donate organs, because it is just too overwhelming to cope with.

In my case, the wait for a suitable donor was also exacerbated by the fact that I needed both a new heart and a pair of lungs. To get a full set of three organs like this that that are fully functional is difficult - one of the pair of organs is often unfit for transplantation- and more often than not organs need to be split up to save more than one life. There is currently an urgent list for patients in desperate need of a new heart and on the news recently there have been calls for a similar urgent list for lungs. It is quite right that those in most need should take priority over those who are able to wait for longer, but at the moment there is no urgent list for those waiting for both heart and lung transplants. They are unable to be placed on the urgent heart list, because they need a pair of lungs too and if an urgent lung list were to be put into place, they will not be able to go on this either as they are in need of a heart. It is an issue that needs addressing, but as reported in the news only last week, only 6 heart and lung transplants were carried out last year, so we are a very small minority group of patients with little voice.

The only way forward at the end of the day is to keep on trying hard to increase the number of organ donors, then everyone can be given a fair chance of survival; by the look of the statistics there is still a long way to go when only roughly 33% of the population have officially signed up, so there is much potential still to increase the numbers on the organ donor register. So with this aim in mind, Rob and I are always keen to take every opportunity to try and promote the advantages of organ donation and try to get people thinking about it and signed up to the organ donor register.

In January we were approached by Hertfordshire Life magazine to feature in an article about Knebworth. This was published in the February issue and the online link is below. The article features three Knebworth residents and their stories, including myself talking about my transplant. 

The other week I was interviewed by the Hertfordshire Mercury for an article in a series they are doing on saving lives. The first article in their series was about the importance of organ donation and signing up to the organ donor register. The feature highlights the shortage of organ donors and how organ donation can transform lives.

When the Cystic Fibrosis Trust released their campaign for more organ donors and a fairer distribution of donated lungs for those most in need last week, Rob was asked to speak to Bob FM Home Counties, our local radio station, about the benefits of transplant and his interview was aired throughout the afternoon and evening.

We are hoping that with this continuing media attention some people will be motivated to sign up to the organ donor register and we can help shift those figures for those signed up to the organ donor register higher than they currently stand. Let's hope for more lives to be saved and for many more people to be given the wonderful new chance in life that my donor has given to me. 

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