#BeAHero: 13,000 sign up to donor register

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IF we could thank each one of you personally we would - but it would take an awfully long time.

In the first six weeks since we joined Leeds Teaching Hospital NHS Trust (LTHT) to urge anyone who can to sign the donor register, almost 13,000 of you have.

Akash Suryavansi with his mum Tina.

Akash Suryavansi with his mum Tina.

The YEP and the Yorkshire Post teamed up with the trust to launch the Be A Hero campaign in July, after we revealed that hundreds of people in Leeds and Yorkshire faced a long and life-threatening wait for an organ transplant, after it emerged only 42 Leeds families consented to organ donation last year.

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There are approximately 800 people on the transplant waiting list in the county at present. Every day three people nationally die waiting for a transplant.

But now, thanks to you, many will be given fresh hope. In July alone, more than 9,000 people in Yorkshire signed up to the organ donor register, and in the first six weeks of the campaign that figure hit almost 13,000, 2,236 were Leeds residents.

Throughout the campaign, we have told the heartbreaking stories of those waiting for transplants, and the hope and comfort it has given to the families whose loved ones have donated after their death.

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Akash Suryavansi, 17, from Harehills, is on the waiting list after discovering the kidney that his mother donated to save his life eleven years ago is failing. Due to the lack of donors from the Asian community, he could wait years for a new one.

His mother, Tina Suryavansi, said the reaction to him appearing in the newspapers has been “fantastic”.

She said: “After sharing Akash’s story, we were directly contacted by five people, two friends and three complete strangers, who offered to be tested to determine whether they were compatible to donate a kidney to my son.

“In the weeks after being linked with the campaign, we had hundreds more people tell us they’ve signed the register, stopping us in the streets, at school or walking down the corridors at work.

“It’s clear that the Be A Hero campaign has touched many lives and hopefully many more to come.”

Dr Simon Flood, one of the Clinical Leads for Organ Donation at LTHT, said: “We are extremely grateful to the YEP and the Yorkshire Post for backing this important campaign right from the start.

“We still need more people to think about their donation wishes, discuss those wishes with family and friends and sign up to the organ register.”

This week is National Transplant Week and the ‘Be A Hero’ campaign wants you to inspire Yorkshire residents, businesses and communities to sign the donor register.

Share your #BeAHero selfies via social media, asking your place of work to back the cause, sending an email to your colleagues, posting a message on your blog or webpage.

Click here to sign the NHS Organ Donor Register through Be A Hero.

FROM those who need it most to sporting legends and even royalty - the Be A Hero campaign has seen star support in masses.

Yorkshire cricketing legend Sir Geoffrey Boycott was one of the first star names to back the campaign, after telling the YEP how his own battle with cancer had prompted him to sign up.

Boycott had been put off joining in the past due to a string of health problems, including cancer of the tongue and a fistula which almost left him paralysed. But the campaign changed his mind.

“I’ve always believed in organ donation but I’ve never joined [the register] because I thought my body’s not worth keeping for anybody. It’s had so many illnesses and accidents,” he said. “If there’s anything I can do to help anybody else when I’m gone I will – we should all look at it like that.”

He was joined by England and Yorkshire batsman Joe Root, who also pledged support. Leeds United stars Sam Byram, Scott Wootton, Gaetano Berardi and Mirco Antenucci backed the campaign, as did Downton Abbey actor Jim Carter. Sarah Ferguson, the Duchess of York, is the campaign’s patron.

Every person who signs the register has the potential to save up to nine lives by donating after death.

Yorkshire Post Newspapers managing editor Nicola Furbisher said: “We have been amazed at how well the Be A Hero campaign has been supported by famous faces.

“But I’m sure they would join us by thanking the real heroes - the 13,000 of you that have signed up to the donor register.”

She also thanked the many families who shared their stories with the YEP and the Yorkshire Post.

“It is those people, who have been through so much, who have inspired us to push forward with this campaign, and have in turn inspired so many to sign up to the register,” she added.

Keith (right) and Ashley Boots

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