Opinion: ‘We must do more to champion organ donation and follow Kyle’s lead’

Tracy and Alex Asquith, the parents of Kyle Asquith, are pictured with Raymond Tait, who was the recipient of Kyle's pancreas and kidney, at Cockburn School, in Beeston. Picture by Simon Hulme.
Tracy and Alex Asquith, the parents of Kyle Asquith, are pictured with Raymond Tait, who was the recipient of Kyle's pancreas and kidney, at Cockburn School, in Beeston. Picture by Simon Hulme.
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A friend of Kyle Asquith, a Leeds lad who died suddenly aged 15, summed up the gesture of his organ donation perfectly.

“It’s a tragedy but he’s saved five lives – it’s pretty amazing”, were the words of Aida Fofana, 17, from Middleton, who was attending a balloon release in memory of Kyle on Thursday.

She was one of more than 1,200 ex and current Cockburn School pupils, family and friends of the late youngster that gathered in tribute to him.

Among an emotional crowd was Raymond Tait, a 39-year-old Dundee man, who is the first to admit that he owes his life to Kyle after he received the teenager’s kidney and pancreas following four years of dialysis on the transplant waiting list. Mr Tait is one of five people whose lives have been saved by Kyle – his living legacy.

But it could all have been so different. At Thursday’s poignant event I met Jane Tute, the specialist organ donation nurse who asked parents Tracy and Alex whether they would consent to Kyle being a donor the day he died.

And though it is a personal decision, in their hour of need the Asquiths thought of how they could help others. Yet you are still more likely to need a transplant than be a donor.

Somehow it’s still not the done thing to join the register despite the fact that one person can help to transform the lives of up to nine people, and three people a day die waiting for a transplant in the UK.

It’s something that has to change, so the YEP is joining forces with Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust over the coming months to champion organ donation through its new ‘Be A Hero’ campaign.

Selfless people like Alex and Tracy Asquith give some of the 10,000 people waiting for transplants hope of a future.

GROWING NEED FOR DONORS

- Around three people die every day in the UK owing to a lack of a donor organ.

- A donor can help up to nine people by donating heart, lungs, two kidneys, pancreas, liver and small bowel and their corneas.

- Donors can also give bone and tissue such as skin, heart valves and tendons.

- Organs from people in their 70s and 80s can be transplanted successfully but older donors are less likely to be able to donate.

- Most organ donations come from people who have died while on a ventilator in a hospital intensive care unit.

- For more on the Be A Hero organ donation campaign visit leedsth.nhs.uk/be-a-hero.

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