Busy time in the world of organ donation

What a busy time it is in the world of organ donation!

In the Spring edition of The Donor, we looked ahead to a summer of sport focusing particularly on the British Transplant Games in Leeds, which took place in late July. The Games are always such a joyous celebration of the gift of life, with hundreds of transplant recipients from all over the UK gathering through a love of sport, thanks to a donor and their family saying yes to organ donation.

Having been suspended for the last three years, due to Covid-19, this year’s Games had been long awaited and were a great success, with more than 850 competitors taking part in over 25 different sports in front of bumper crowds.

Just before the Transplant Games, we created this fun film with Makena, a regular competitor in the Games, and her wonderful mum, Tracey to share as part of our Tribute to Life initiative, which aims to bring together Commonwealth nations in a humanitarian effort to save and improve more lives through organ donation.

With the project now in its initial stages, we’re delighted to say that 42 Commonwealth nations have agreed to work together in a collaboration that will significantly bolster organ donation globally, through enhanced support networks and the sharing of knowledge and research.

Tribute to Life launched days before the Commonwealth Games began, so we were delighted to hear that Makena was selected as one of the Commonwealth Games baton bearers, guiding the baton through her local West Midlands area on the way to the opening ceremony.

September, of course, featured Organ Donation Week, running 26 September until 2 October. It’s a huge week in the calendar for NHS Blood and Transplant and the wider transplant community, and traditionally leads to significant spikes in the number of people registering as donors. If you are reading this thinking that you’re automatically registered as a donor as a result of the law around organ donation changing in 2020, then you’re someone we’ve aimed to reach when planning our Organ Donation Week activity!

No-one is automatically on the NHS Organ Donor Register. Instead, it will be considered that you agree to become an organ donor when you die if: you are over 18; not in an excluded group and you have not selected to opt out of donation. If you do want to be a donor then recording your decision is the best way to make that clear. Make sure you let your family know too, so that they know to support your decision. You can add your name to the NHS Organ Donor Register here, via the NHS App in England or by calling us on 0300 123 23 23.

Follow us on social media too (@NHSOrganDonor) to join in or catch up on our Organ Donation Week content. This year we encouraged people to 'go pink' during the week, in whatever way suits them. Expect to see pink wigs, pink cakes, pink drinks, pink buildings and more!

Myles Tolley
Myles received three liver transplants since 2019.

Someone delighted to join in with this year’s Organ Donation Week campaign was Myles Tolley, 32, from Walsall. Myles remarkably received three liver transplants since 2019, his health first declining ten years ago, due to complications with a blood clot.

He then contracted Covid shortly after his first transplant in November 2019, which led to sepsis. Unfortunately, a second bout of sepsis after his second transplant in June 2021 put him back in intensive care. Thankfully it was third time lucky for Myles, who received another liver transplant in November 2021.

Myles says, "I have had amazing support from my surgeon, hospital staff, family, friends and partner but it has been a tough journey. I have never met or heard of anyone becoming ill like this and never did I expect to have needed three transplants."

I feel like I am living life, not just for me but for my three donors also – they all gave me the greatest gift and I want to honour them and live the best life I can.

"A lot of my family and friends now understand how important organ donation is and they have all added their name to the register.

Myles after recovery"Now my health is improving, and I am feeling the best I have felt in a long time, my blood tests are all coming back really well, and l am getting stronger every day.

(Picture: Myles post transplant recovery)

"I feel like I am living life, not just for me but for my three donors also – they all gave me the greatest gift and I want to honour them and live the best life I can."

Inspired by people like Myles and Makena, our busy year continues into October! Be sure to look out for our uplifting celebration of the gift of sight on our social channels around World Sight Day on 13 October, which you can share in. We need more people to agree to cornea donation after death, to help transform the lives of people waiting for cornea transplants.

On World Sight Day we’ll be encouraging everyone to share photographs of what the gift of sight means to them. It might be the opportunity to see their children, their pets, wildlife, gorgeous views, sunsets, sunrises, to indulge in a hobby, to pursue a career. Follow us to find out!

Black History Month and Diwali both take place in October too, and we’ll be focusing on why ethnicity matters for organ donation and why we need more donors from Black and Asian backgrounds.

For more information about organ donation, please don’t hesitate to visit our website here at www.organdonation.nhs.uk.