#TimeToSign: Mum of son who died waiting for organ transplant meets with council

Jillian Oxley (centre) who lost her son while he was waiting for an organ transplant, with Councillor Lynda Bowyer (left) and Dr Ruth Harrell (right).

The mum of a man who died waiting for an organ transplant has met with representatives of Plymouth City Council to discuss how more people in the city can be encouraged to sign up to the NHS Organ Donation Register.

Jillian Oxley, who lost her son Jon Paul aged just 21 in 2012 to Cystic Fibrosis, met with Councillor Lynda Bowyer, Cabinet Member for Health and Adult Social Care, and Dr Ruth Harrell, the Council’s Director of Public Health.

The meeting follows Plymouth’s #TimeToSign campaign which was run throughout December 2016 and was led locally by Plymouth City Council working in partnership with NHS Blood and Transplant and local NHS partners including Northern, Eastern and Western Devon Clinical Commissioning Group, Plymouth Hospitals NHS Trust, Livewell Southwest.

There are currently 17 people waiting for a transplant in Plymouth and 9 people have died whilst waiting for a transplant over the past 5 years. Just this year, since April 2016, 11 people in Plymouth have received a transplant, while 149 have undergone a transplant in the past 5 years.

Jillian Oxley said: “My son had waited 18 months for a lung transplant but no suitable donor had been found. Although we did have 5 calls during that period from potential donors, sadly none were a suitable match.

“His motto in life was ‘live life – give life’ and he was a big supporter of organ donation – your organs are no use to you when you are dead, give someone else the chance of life.

“Organ donation is helping another person to live, giving them another chance at life. In a way by donating your organs you continue to live on even after your passing.

“It is so simple to sign up for the organ donor register – you can either call 0300 123 23 23 or just sign up via www.organdonation.nhs.uk 

Jillian had also backed the #TimeToSign campaign and has previously presented a petition of 1,000 signatures to Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt, backing a ‘soft opt out’ scheme for organ donation. Jillian also set up the Jon Paul Oxley Memorial Fund  at Derriford Hospital which has so far raised £1,085 to help people with Cystic Fibrosis and their families to make their hospital stay more comfortable.

Councillor Lynda Bowyer, Cabinet Member for Health and Adult Social Care for Plymouth City Council, said: “We were pleased to welcome Jillian and will continue to work with her to encourage people to sign up to the NHS Organ Donor Register.

“People are dying every day waiting for an organ transplant and this is not acceptable – we need to get more people to register for organ donation, and we believe that the system needs changing.  While 86% of people agree that organ donation is important, around 37% of people who are willing to be organ donors say that they haven’t got around to joining the NHS Organ Donor Register.”

Dr Ruth Harrell, Director of Public Health for Plymouth City Council, said: “Three people die in the UK every day while waiting for an organ transplant, so we really do need more people to sign up to the register, in Plymouth as well as nationally.

“We all have busy lives, but somehow we still find ourselves idling away time and put off doing things we really know we should do. One of those things is signing up as an organ donor.”

A dedicated local Plymouth URL (web-link) was used for the time limited (one month) #TimeToSign campaign and during the campaign, 250 people from Plymouth clicked through to the organ donor register and 107 people signed up. In addition the campaign reached 26,230 people on facebook and 24,617 impressions through twitter. The campaign was also promoted via local press and in the Council’s 1st Stop Shop and on screens across the city.

You can sign up to the NHS Organ Donor Register here: www.organdonation.nhs.uk 

Some facts about organ donation:

  • Every year, 3000 lives are saved or improved by organ donation
  • Organs can be donated from all ages, including people in their 70s and 80s – the deciding factor is their physical condition rather than their age
  • Three people die every day waiting for an organ transplant because not enough organs are being donated