21 November 2012

The campaign for a national monument to organ donors was officially launched today (Wednesday 21 November).

•	Thank you for life: (L-R) Professor Andrew Burroughs, Helen Eccles, Susan Lee-Clarke, Harry Lee-Clarke, Linda Selves and Chris Williamson MP

Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group for Transplantation, Chris Williamson MP, joined transplant recipients Helen Eccles and Susan Lee-Clarke to launch the Thank you for life campaign at the Houses of Parliament.

Spear-headed by Professor Andrew Burroughs, senior physician of the liver transplant programme at the Royal Free London NHS Foundation Trust, Thank you for life aims to highlight the generosity of donors, and the bravery of their families.

Commenting on the campaign launch, Professor Andrew Burroughs said:

‘Transplantation is an emotive subject, and one which depends on the generosity of donors and the bravery of their families. I believe that generosity and bravery should be a matter of national pride and national recognition.

‘In much the same way that we honour our brave service men and women who have fallen in the name of saving others, I believe organ donors should be recognised for their remarkably selfless act.’

According to latest figures from NHS Blood and Transplant, there are 7,651 people in the UK currently waiting for a transplant, yet an average of 1,000 people – three a day – will die each year before an organ becomes available.

In 1996 Helen Eccles received a mismatched (different blood group) liver transplant and later became involved in the Thank you for life campaign. Commenting on the launch, Helen said:

‘It is truly amazing that, at a time of inconsolable loss and grief, the families of donors give complete strangers like me the chance of health and happiness. It is only right that this act of kindness is publicly recognised.’

In 2010 Professor Burroughs and colleagues at the Royal Free Hospital published a book of letters sent from transplant recipients to the families of their donors. This week, copies of the book are being sent to MPs and Peers, urging them to back the campaign for a national monument.

Susan Lee-Clarke, received a transplant following many years of chronic liver disease, and featured in the book of letters. Speaking at the launch of the Thank you for life national monument campaign, Susan said:

‘I spent a year of my life bed-bound by chronic liver disease. As my son, Harry, was growing up, all I could do was watch from my bedroom window. Then I received a transplant.

‘Thanks to the courage of my donor, and their family, my life has been completely transformed. I now have the health and energy to enjoy every precious day.’

The campaign is being supported by the N Sethia Foundation and the Royal College of Physicians.

Notes to editors

For further information, hi-res images or interview availability, please contact Andrew McCracken, RCP communications and new media adviser, on 0203 075 1354, 07990 745 608 or andrew.mccracken@rcplondon.ac.uk.

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