Bristol Student Inspires Organ Donation Campaign

Will Pope’s wait for a new heart inspires thousands to help raise awareness about organ donation

Thousands of Bristol students have been showing support for organ donation this week after learning of a fellow student’s agonising wait for a new heart.

Bristol student Will Pope was featured in ITV’s ‘Tonight’ special ‘Waiting For A Heart’ last Thursday. Since the show aired, thousands of Bristol students have used social media sites to raise awareness about the lack of registered organ donors in the UK.

A Facebook group set up by Will’s friends to help spread the word gained over 3,600 members within just 48 hours. Students have also been sharing photos with the message ‘We Love Organ Donors’ on Twitter using the hashtag #willpower.

The student barbershop society TUBBS have also pledged their support to the cause, and have announced that all proceeds from their upcoming Christmas recital will be donated to  Live Life Then Give Life, a charity which aims to raise awareness about organ donation.

Those at the centre of the efforts to raise awareness hope to inspire thousands of students to sign up to the organ donation register and help save lives in the future. Currently less than a third of the UK’s population are registered organ donors.

Many students were shocked to learn of the agonising wait suffered by those who are waiting for a viable organ. Will Pope has been confined to hospital for over 80 days and is unlikely to be able to leave until a new heart is found.

Bristol student Jessie Fuellenkemper said she was stunned to learn from the ITV documentary that even those patients whose cases are classed as an ’emergency’ face no guarantees of a new heart.

“This is not only completely depressing but it is actually terrifying. It removes any meaning of ‘emergency’ support. This just has to change; there need to be more hearts.”

As well as getting more people to sign the organ donor register, campaigners are also in the early stages of planning a possible concert to help raise awareness. There are also talks going on with the Union about arranging an official University-wide campaign.

Tab readers can show their support for Will and organ donation by signing up to the organ donation register here. To learn more about the awareness campaign, please read this article by Natasha Isaac.