Organ donation: don’t keep it to yourself

Every day in the UK, three people die needlessly waiting on a transplant. And yet the seven words ‘I’d like to be an organ donor’ could save the lives of up to seven people.

Scotland needs to increase the number of people on the NHS Organ Donor Register to help the 600 people in Scotland who are still waiting.

Recent statistics show Scotland continues to lead the way in terms of the number of people signed up to the NHS Organ Donor Register, but more needs to be done to ensure that those waiting get a second chance at life.

A staggering 96 per cent of people say they would accept an organ if they needed one, and yet only 40 per cent of Scots have joined the Register.

With the likelihood of a person needing an organ transplant being greater than the likelihood of someone actually becoming an organ donor, Scots are being urged to make their wishes known by talking to their family and loved ones and adding their name to the Register to help those in desperate need.

One such person is young dad David Speers from Aberdeen. David’s world fell apart when he found out during a routine medical in 2009 that he was suffering from chronic kidney failure and would soon need a transplant to save his life.

Speaking about his experience, 35-year old David said: “I was at that point in life where I was doing all the adult things you do, getting married, getting a mortgage, life insurance and looking forward to starting a family. It all seemed routine but fortunately the doctor doing my medical picked signs of excessive blood and protein in my urine and referred me to a consultant who after undertaking a biopsy advised me that I had kidney failure.

“It was the ultimate shock for us both but I had to keep positive and stay as fit and healthy as I could. I decided to participate in a triathlon as I had spent nine months training, it was my way of doing something positive before my life changed completely. Having end stage renal failure and being on dialysis meant I wouldn’t be able to do much activity anymore. I wanted to do it as my way of saying this wasn’t going to beat me and nothing is impossible when you put your mind to it.”

David ran the triathlon, completing a 1.5km swim, 40km cycle and a 10km run. Just two weeks later he had a catheter fitted to start his kidney dialysis which he now does four times a day, every day.

Whilst on the transplant list, David’s wife Linda found out she was pregnant and they were expecting a baby in December 2011.

He said: “It really gave me something to focus on and fight for. I want to be able to run around after my children and live a normal life without worry so this was my way of showing that kidney disease wasn’t going to get me down.

“My whole focus since then has been on my daughter Zoe. When she was born it was amazing, the best moment of our lives, we have so much hope, plans and excitement for the future. Zoe puts it all into perspective; both Zoe and Linda are my inspiration and energy for life, I’m not going to let this beat me.

“My story is not unique or special; I am just a normal guy, with a positive outlook on life, a loving wife and daughter, while also waiting on a life changing transplant.

“There are so many people waiting on transplants and coping with a lot more than me, if from reading this, just one extra person joins the NHS Organ Donor Register then I have achieved something.

“Please, join the Register now, you can text or go online, it’s that easy and you could help save and change lives after you’re gone.”

John Forsythe, Scotland’s Lead Clinician for Organ Donation and Transplantation, added: “In our society, nobody likes talking about death. There is a taboo about the subject. However those who have elected to join the NHS Organ Donor Register or who have spoken with their families about organ donation at the time of death, make a most generous decision which allows others to live.

“Due to the generosity of the Scottish people, organ donor numbers are increasing and allowing more life-saving transplants. But there is much still to do as people wait on lists for their chance to get a transplant.

“Please think about what you would want to happen to you, add your name to the Register and, as the ad says, have a wee chat to your family too.”

To find out more about organ donation and to join the NHS Organ Donor Register, visit or text LIFE to 61611.