Hundreds of people in Leeds and wider Yorkshire face a long and life-threatening wait for an organ transplant, after it emerged only 42 Leeds families consented to organ donation last year.
The YEP can reveal that the latest figures show 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.
Average waiting times in Yorkshire for liver transplants are 25 per cent longer than the national average at around 222 days, while the average wait for a kidney transplant in the White Rose is a staggering 1,114 days.
Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust (LTH), Yorkshire’s leading transplant centre and the only liver transplant centre in the county, is urging more residents to sign the Organ Donor Register after only 29 people in Leeds actually donated organs in 2014/15.
The YEP has teamed up with the trust to launch its landmark ‘Be A Hero’ campaign today in which we aim to create a unique club of Yorkshire heroes by boosting sign-ups to the register while showcasing some of the heroic, lifesaving actions of donor families in our region.
Dr Simon Flood, one of the clinical leads for organ donation at LTH, said: “Sadly there are still approximately 800 people in Yorkshire waiting for a transplant.
“Just one organ donor can transform the lives of up to nine people and if more families felt sure of their loved one’s wishes to be a donor, more lives could be saved.”
The lifesaving actions of the 29 Leeds donors last year led to 76 life-changing transplants, and Yorkshire-wide 114 people gave 294 patients organs. Nationally there are around 10,000 people waiting for an organ transplant.
A donor, someone who agrees to donate their organs to others after death, can help up to nine people by donating their heart, lungs, two kidneys, pancreas, liver and small bowel and can restore the sight of two people by donating their corneas.
As part of Be A Hero we will be publishing the stories of the brave families who have agreed to donation in difficult circumstances, those saved by the actions of others and of families facing the agonising wait for a transplant.
The initiative, backed by likes of Sir Geoffrey Boycott, cricket star Joe Root and Downton Abbey’s Jim Carter, will also urge readers to show their support by downloading special superhero masks and taking to social media to post selfies using the hashtag #BeAHero.
Dr Flood added: “I hope our Be A Hero campaign will inspire families to have a discussion about their wishes around organ donation. It would be fantastic if the generosity of Yorkshire people meant that in Yorkshire, those who need a transplant get one in time.”
The Leeds Transplant Centre at LTH has been providing complex specialist organ transplants for Yorkshire for over 25 years. It is the third largest liver transplant unit in the UK, a leading centre for ‘live related’ transplants and a regional centre for renal transplants.
Jeremy Clifford, editorial director of the YEP, said: “Our area’s organ donation statistics are truly shocking and the issue is something we strongly believe needs highlighting. We are happy to be able to support Be A Hero and would urge all Yorkshire residents to learn more and potentially make a decision to sign the NHS Organ Donor Register that could save several lives.”
We’re urging residents to sign the NHS Organ Donor Register and become a hero.
To raise the profile of Be A Hero we’re also urging workplaces and communities to support the campaign through anything from putting up a Be A Hero poster to hosting a superhero day. You can even download a #BeAHero mask from leedsth.nhs.uk/be-a-hero and tweet your superhero selfies to @Leedsnews and @LTHTrust using the hashtag #BeAHero.
Supporters can also send #BeAHero messages of support to facebook.com/yep.newspaper or send their tales of organ donation via email to firstname.lastname@example.org.