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‘Thank you for letting me get the chance to live’

The Royal Free Hospital, in conjunction with the Royal College of Physicians (RCP), has launched a ‘call to action’ for people to sign the organ donor register. More than 10,000 people in the UK currently need a transplant and of these, 1,000 die waiting each year as there are not enough organs available.

On Monday 14 May, a wall was unveiled at the Royal Free to encourage people to give the gift of life by signing the organ donor register. Entitled ‘Life – Live it – Give it’, the wall features photographs of people who have had successful organ transplants, alongside their messages of thanks to the families of the organ donors.

The wall also features a painting by artist Helen Eccles, who had a liver transplant at the Royal Free just two days after her daughter was born. Her painting, entitled Gift of Life, celebrates her recovery following the transplant.

An image of the painting has been used as the front cover for a book published by the RCP, titled Thank you for life, which is a collection of letters from transplant recipients to donors’ families.

A screen on the wall displays extracts from a film, which was commissioned by the RCP to raise awareness of organ transplantation and donation. Next to the wall is a computer terminal where patients and members of staff can sign up to the organ donor register. The wall was unveiled by Sir Richard Thompson, president of the RCP.

Nine-year old Lucy Pearson received a heart transplant and features in the film. In a letter to the family of her donor, she writes:

Dear donor, my fifth anniversary is coming up and I just wanted to say thank you. I can do lots of things now that I never used to be able to do, like swimming, trampolining, riding my bike, and lots of other things, like sports… Thank you for letting me get the chance to live.

Professor Andrew Burroughs, consultant physician and hepatologist at the Royal Free, said:

Although the success of organ transplantation of all types depends on the integration of many specialist teams before, during and after the procedure, nothing would be possible without the individuals and their families who agree to donate organs.

The challenge of organ donation is to think about it in the present, for the future, so as to make it easier to discuss this special gift within families, or with friends. This will ensure that relatives and friends are in no doubt as to what one’s wishes are when they die.

Sir Richard Thompson, president of the RCP, said:

The heartfelt messages displayed on this wall show just how much of a difference transplants make to the lives of those in need of organs. I encourage everyone to sign the organ donor register and give those waiting for a transplant a second chance in life.

Sally Johnson, director of organ donation and transplantation at NHS Blood and Transplant, said:

Every day in this country three people die because we can't provide them with the life saving transplant they need. Often this is simply because those people who could donate that day hadn't thought about it and hadn't talked to their family. So we need you to think about organ donation, talk to your family and join the NHS Organ Donor Register today. If you want to save lives through organ donation, make sure your family know.

It is hoped that this wall will be a model for other hospitals to reproduce, using the pictures and film, which will be made available for use.

View pictures from the event on the RCP's Facebook page


For further information, please contact Andrew McCracken, RCP Communications and New Media Adviser, on +44 (0)203 075 1354 / 07990 745 608, or email andrew.mccracken@rcplondon.ac.uk