Natasha Isaac explains why it's important people take the time to register as organ donors.
I started university a year ago now and on my first day I met a guy called Will Pope. We became close friends pretty quickly and over the past three months I’ve come to realise that Will is the bravest and most special man I know.
Some of you might have seen Will on TV recently, he was on an episode of ‘Tonight’, not a programme I normally watch, but I was glued to it on Thursday.
This episode was called ‘Waiting for a Heart’ because that’s what Will’s been up to recently. In fact that’s just about all he’s been up to, he’s been stuck in hospital for over 80 days now, just waiting.
After watching ‘Waiting for a Heart’ second year Computer Science student Benji Barash said “Throughout the documentary, even in such a fragile physical state, Will’s mental fortitude was clear.
“If the rest of us could show a fraction of his courage and clarity and opt-in to the organ donor register, we might one day leave this planet unselfishly.”
Recently Will had an operation to try and install a pump in his heart but unfortunately the pump wasn’t strong enough and Will has had a pretty tough week whilst they took it out, at the time of writing he is stable in ITU.
What’s next? More waiting.
Will probably won’t be able to leave the hospital until a donor heart is found for him.
But Will isn’t the only person waiting for a heart, there are approximately 140 people on the heart transplant list. No one ever likes to be put on a ‘waiting list’ and I can’t even begin to imagine what being put on this particular list is like.
Currently just under a third of people in the UK are registered organ donors (at the time of writing there are 19,208,228 people on the organ donor register). The large majority of this number are elderly people so unless we, the younger generation, change this culture by getting everyone to sign up, one day we could all be in the same position as Will.
Don’t get me wrong – I’m not advocating signing up because I want you all to have terrible accidents so that we can save the lives of everyone who needs an organ, no, nor are we going to secretly come and harvest your organs in the night.
Your life is precious but if you happen to be unlucky enough to lose it, wouldn’t it be nice to know that those organs you’d so brilliantly looked after could find a loving new home? Just how wonderful would it be for a precious part of you to eventually be allowed to live on in someone else?
For me, it’s a no brainer. It’s not gross, it’s not weird, it’s a privilege. A privilege to have been able to take care of such fabulous gifts and a wonder to be able to pass them on if I’m not able to use them any more.
So what can we do?
‘Tis the season for gift giving and this is the greatest gift there is. It’s unlikely that you’ll be giving this particular gift on December 25th 2012 but signing up now will not only make my heart glow but could also give someone else a glowing chance at a new life.
The next step is to talk to your family about it. If you’ve signed onto the register your family can still act on your behalf to keep your organs instead of donating them.
Sadly 45% of organ donors’ wishes are overturned by their family when it comes to it which is a bit like changing someone’s will because you don’t like it.
Even if you don’t sign up or you want your family to make the final call on your behalf, the most important thing to do is to talk to them about it and make sure they know exactly what you want.
Talking about this important issue will hopefully mean that a higher percentage of the people who die every day will live on in some small way by giving the gift of life to someone in need of an organ.
If you want to give the greatest gift there is all you have to do is enter about five lines of information on the NHS website; it’ll only take a minute and you can even choose which organs you want to donate.