Give the gift of life - be an organ donor

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If you want to be an organ donor, it’s important not to keep it to yourself.

Every day in the UK, three people die waiting on a transplant. That’s why it’s vitally important to continue to increase the number of people on the NHS Organ Donor Register.

By making your wishes known, you could quite literally give the gift of life to someone after your death. In Scotland, 41 per cent of people have already taken action to help those waiting by joining the NHS Organ Donor Register, but there is still a shortage of organs for transplant.

A new campaign has been launched to urge people to have a chat about organ donation with their loved ones. The seven words, ‘I’d like to be an organ donor’ can save up to seven lives and making the time to talk about organ donation can make all the difference.

Put simply, your generosity could give a new lease of life to the thousands of people waiting across the UK.

Erin Lappin takes comfort everyday from knowing her baby son saved the lives of five people.

Little Stewart Johnston was just three and a half when he stopped breathing at home on 23 January 2010.

He was rushed to the Royal Hospital for Sick Children in Glasgow where doctors battled to save him but when they told Erin they could do no more, she and Stewart’s dad, Stewart Senior, immediately asked doctors if their son could become an organ donor.

This selfless decision enabled doctors to save the lives of another adult and four children – including two babies not yet born when Stewart passed away.

Now Erin is urging more Scots to join the NHS Organ Donor Register to make a difference to the many people waiting on a transplant.

Erin said: “If you are in any doubt about the good that organ donation can do you should visit someone who is waiting on a transplant. The difference it can make to someone’s life is amazing.

“We need to be more open and talk about it with our families and make that decision. It shouldn’t be a taboo subject, don’t put it off, join the Register today.”

Erin first knew something was wrong with Stewart when he was suffering from a high temperature. But in the middle of the night he stopped breathing and she called for an ambulance to her Clydebank home.

She said: “Stewart was rushed to the hospital but it was 45 minutes before doctors could get his heart beating again. At this point they had to take him for a CT scan to see if there had been any lasting damage to his brain as he had been without oxygen for so long. The scan showed significant brain damage and doctors told us it was non survivable.

“Both Stewart’s dad and I were on the NHS Organ Donor Register. We were both of the opinion that it is about quality of life, not quantity of life, and so when we knew Stewart wasn’t going to survive he asked doctors if organ donation would be a possibility.

“We were certain that we wanted something good to come out of something so bad.”

In total, the family’s brave decision saved the lives of four children.

Little Stewart’s brother Sean, 12, and sister Kelsey, 16, are both proud of their brother, knowing he saved other people’s lives. Erin also helps others waiting for a transplant by raising awareness of the need for more people to join the NHS Organ Donor Register.

She said: “No one likes to think about it but all you have to do is join the Register, it takes two minutes, you can sign up online or by text and you could help save lives after you’ve gone, just like my baby.”

To find out more about organ donation and to join the NHS Organ Donor Register, visit www.organdonationscotland.org or text LIFE to 61611.