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TWO inspirational Fylde coast women have become the faces of a campaign designed to make people talk about organ donation.
A pair of specially branded trams have been unveiled to promote awareness of organ donation along the famous coast for the next year. The trams both feature Jo Haythornthwaite and Rosie Neath who have first-hand experience of organ donation from both sides of the story.
Rosie, 27, had suffered from Cystic Fibrosis from an early age and underwent a “life-saving’’ lung transplant earlier this year.
She said: “My lungs started failing towards end of 2014. I couldn’t breathe without oxygen and just talking took all my energy.
“I was shocked that I needed a transplant but my body was failing me and it was the only option.
“In Spring this year I was told there was a donor and I had the chance of life. After the operation I stayed in intensive care for a week but 20 days later I did not need oxygen anymore and my life has changed beyond all recognition.
“If it wasn’t for my donor I do not think I would be here now and I will be forever grateful to the person who helped.’’
Jo, from Lytham, donated her husband John’s organs seven years ago and said it was a decision that she has never regretted.
She said: “John and I had been married for 38 years and his death came out of the blue after he had a massive brain haemorrhage. It was a huge shock and I knew life would never be the same.
“Just before he died a ward sister came in and asked me if I had thought about organ donation. It was something John and I had never spoken about but after the conversation with the sister I felt lifted and inspired.
“John was a kind and caring person who would have done anything for anybody and there was no doubt in my mind that this was the way forward. Seven people benefited from John’s organs and I am glad I made the decision.
“I do think people should talk more about organ donation as an option. These trams will spread that message and hopefully we can encourage more people to talk about it and decide to sign on to the organ donor register.”
There are 47 people currently awaiting transplants in the Blackpool and Fylde areas alone and in the last four years 10 people from the area have died whilst waiting for a transplant.
Blackpool Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust’s Organ Donation Committee, which is supported by NHS Blood and Transplant, decided they would take unique steps to help encourage more people to join the Organ Donor Register.
Lee Alexander, a Specialist Nurse in Organ Donation with NHS Blood and Transplant who works at Blackpool Victoria Hospital, said: “The committee is made up of a range of staff from the hospital who understand the need for organ donation to meet the needs of the patients coming for treatment in Blackpool. These people may be coming from all over Lancashire.
“Organ donation saves and transforms people’s lives. But three people die in need of a transplant a day in the UK so it is very concerning that the national number of donors has gone down this year. The committee wanted to do something to encourage more people to talk about it with their family. People need to make it clear they want to donate their organs, because family consent is still sought even if you are on the Organ Donor Register.
“During the last year 12 people in the area have benefited from organ donation and we want to ensure we can continue to save lives but we can only do it with the help of others. One person can save up to nine people with organ donation.
“Of course it is a difficult subject to discuss but it’s one that needs to be spoken about.”
Anthony Clarkson, Assistant Director, Organ Donation and Nursing, said: “Not only will the people who live in Blackpool see the trams and the important message they carry but the millions of visitors will too.
“We want them to be inspired by the stories that feature on the trams and go online and take just two or three minutes to register to be an organ donor.”
You can join the Organ Donor Register at www.organdonation.nhs.uk or by calling 0300 123 23 23.
For all media enquiries please contact Nathan Skelton, communications support officer, on 01253 953538 or Nathan.firstname.lastname@example.org