Welcome to Organ Donation Week 2018!

I have the great pleasure of writing the first blog of this special week, over the next few days you will hear from some of our inspirational colleagues who will blog about what Organ Donation Week means to them. I hope you will take a moment out of your working day to read their stories.

Organ Donation Week is our yearly opportunity to use the increased media interest generated by the ‘Week’ to highlight the key messages we need to get across the UK. The general public are supportive of organ donation with just over 80% stating they support donation. However, the eternal frustration for organ donation professionals is that this generalised support does not always translate into consents when a family are faced with a donation decision.

In that moment their driver is what they know their loved one would want, not what they think is right and it is all so much tougher at such a difficult time. So, Organ Donation Week allows us to share stories, many inspirational and some sad, make the faces of donors and those who wait for a lifesaving transplant real to the public and above all encourage everyone to make clear that their wish would be to donate their organs if they could.

Like all good things, Organ Donation Week is comprised of so much more than most people see. Work has been ongoing for weeks and, in my own small way, I have been helping to prepare for weeks. Many of the interviews on TV and radio that you will see this week have been months in the planning and mostly prerecorded. I have been undertaking media interviews on a daily basis for several weeks now, so combined with the live interviews I have today with TV and radio I hope we will get substantial and effective media coverage today and throughout the week!

Media interviews are proof that the old adage about never forgetting how to ride your bike is generally quite true: the more you do the easier it gets, and you relax into it which is much better for the media outcome. I enjoy the challenge of undertaking media work and I am also deeply honoured by the wonderful people with whom I get to share the organ donation platform as the week progresses.

Last week I met an inspirational gentleman called Gareth (pictured right with wife, Danielle) who is currently the longest waiter for a heart transplant in the UK. He is in hospital as he is now too unwell to stay at home. Gareth is waiting for a new heart. His first heart transplant which has worked for a truly remarkable 28 years. During this time, Gareth grew up, got married, had kids and built a career. He is living proof of the incredible gift of organ donation and the desperate need for more people to donate and he is above and beyond that a brave, decent and inspiring man. I consider myself to be incredibly fortunate to work in the unique and incredible area of healthcare that is organ donation and meeting people like Gareth just reminds me how lucky I am and how important our work is. You can watch a video message from Gareth here.

I am of course only one of our wonderful team of Organ Donation and Transplantation colleagues, Clinical Leads, Organ Donation Committee members, healthcare partners and volunteers who have been preparing to make this week incredible.

There are myriad events being held across the UK and individuals giving up their time to man stalls, attend events and give media interviews. What Organ Donation Week shows me every year is that as a team our commitment to our cause of saving and improving lives is truly second to none and that should make everyone involved this week in whatever capacity very proud. Look out for buildings in England and Wales lit up pink and lit up green in Scotland to support organ donation.

So, what do I want to achieve this year? Simple really; I want to encourage as many of our fellow citizens as possible to think about organ donation and tell their nearest and dearest their decision.

I want to remind everyone that while we have made tremendous advances in recent years, we have much more work to do. I want Gareth to get a heart and for all those currently waiting to get the organ transplant they so desperately need and more than anything I want to work to prevent people dying needlessly because they did not get the transplant that would have given them life. So, please enjoy Organ Donation Week and be sure to spread the word about the incredible benefits of donation to recipients and donor families alike, together we can make a real difference.

You can register to become an organ donor here.

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