With a desperate shortage of organ donors, Plymouth is launching a campaign to encourage people to sign up as a potential donor.
Nine people have died in Plymouth whilst waiting for an organ transplant in the past five years and there are currently 17 people waiting for a transplant in the city.
Plymouth City Council recently put forward a motion to encourage people to sign up to the organ donor register, and will be raising awareness throughout December along with other local partners.
At the same time a major campaign is being launched on 6 December in Plymouth in partnership with NHS Blood and Transplant – #TimeToSign – urging people to register to donate immediately. The campaign is led locally by Plymouth City Council and is being supported by Northern, Eastern and Western Devon Clinical Commissioning Group, Plymouth Hospitals NHS Trust, Livewell Southwest and other partners. The campaign will run until 31 December 2016.
The campaign is also being backed by Ian Horrell, whose wife Linda died in a car accident and Ian then donated her organs at Derriford Hospital. They had agreed that if she died she wanted Ian to donate her organs and had discussed this at length when she had previously had a breast cancer scare.
Councillor Lynda Bowyer, Cabinet Member for Health and Social Care for Plymouth City Council, said: “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 35% of people who are willing to be organ donors say that they haven’t got around to joining the NHS Organ Donor Register.
“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.
“We know many people don’t want to think about their own death. But patients waiting for a transplant depend on people of all ages thinking about whether they want to become a donor. Those couple of minutes you give to sign up as a donor could lead to you saving lives in the future.
“It’s so easy and you can sign up by calling 0300 123 23 23 or online.”
Rachel Stuart-Murden, Team Manager for the Specialist Organ Donation team who covers a number of Trusts in the South West including Derriford, said: “Just one person donating their organs can help save, or enhance, the lives of up to 20 people – from bones and tendons to skin, heart valves and corneas. I really would urge people to sign up to the organ donor register.”
Jackie Parmenter, Specialist Nuse in Organ Donation at Derriford, said: “We want people to be able to access the right information and if people talk to their loved ones about organ donation it makes it much easier for them if they ever find themselves in that position.”
Look out for information around the city and on social media about the campaign, and the hashtag #TimeToSign
Ian Horrell from Bude in Cornwall said deciding to donate his wife’s organs was easy because he was carrying out the final thing he would ever do for her.
Ian’s wife Linda died aged 49 after losing control of her car and having a head on collision with a lorry on the A39 in October 2014.
Her kidneys, pancreatic cells, liver and corneas were donated at Plymouth’s Derriford Hospital.
Ian and Linda has discussed organ donation after Linda had a breast cancer scare in July 2014, before she had the test results back that revealed the worrying lump was only a benign cyst.
“Linda had carried a donor card for many years. We both agreed that when you die there’s no point in not donating because your organs are no good to you once you are gone.”
The couple had been married for nine years. Linda worked at a local Asda store.
Ian said: “She filled a room with laughter. She was full of life. I know they still miss her at Asda singing Disney songs.
“I received cards from people who had only been on one day training courses with her but they still remembered her. She was wonderful.
“I got a card from the lady who received her liver. It was surreal. It just blew my socks off. There was so much emotion. It was something I will always treasure.
“It was handwritten which nowadays you don’t see much which made it very personal.
“It just said how her family had all now joined the Organ Donor Register and how thankful they were to my family.
“The decision to donate was easy because I knew it’s what Linda would have wanted. It was the last thing that I could do for her.
“Donation really was a bright light at a very dark time.”
Ian praised the Specialist Nurse in Organ Donation who worked with his family.
“The doctor had said there was nothing more they could do and said it was time to look at options. My sister said how can there be options and he started to mumble a bit.
“I said ‘is this about donation and transplants’ and that seemed to free him up to talk about it.
“The Specialist Nurse spent a long time with us answering questions, for example explaining the corneas could be stored up to 30 days before they were used.
“Everything that she said would happen, happened, and everything she said she would do, she did.”
Facts about organ donation in Plymouth
- There are currently 17 people waiting for a transplant in Plymouth
- Nine people have died in Plymouth whilst waiting for an organ transplant in the past five years
- 11 people from Plymouth have received a transplant since April 2016 and 149 perople have undergone a transplant in the last 5 years.
- There are 97,925 people residing in the Plymouth postcode area on the UK Organ Donor Register – this is around 37% of the population (just above the national average of 35% on the ODR).
For more information on how YOU can register now visit http://bit.ly/2gyEByr
or call 0300 123 23 23
Note: The campaign launch photo (top) at Windsor House shows Councillor Lynda Bowyer, Cabinet Member for Health and Adult Social Care, Dr Ruth Harrell, Interim Director of Public Health, Jackie Parmenter and Sharon Henry, Specialist Nurses in Organ Donation at Derriford Hospital NHS Trust, and Rachel Stoddard-Murden, Team Manager for the Specialist Organ Transplant Nurses at Derriford and a number of other trusts