Are You Convinced?

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Continuing our examination of the organ donation register, we look at ways to dramatically increase the number of potential donors.

In the first Wessex Scene magazine this year, we looked at why the opt-out solution is not the answer for now. Now we turn our attention to the best ways of jam-packing the ODR. First though, let’s get some facts straight:

Are you really dead when they take the organ?

Yes. Only after death has been confirmed by independent doctors can the specially trained transplant team be called in.

Does signing up take long?

About 30 seconds.

Is the information on the website secure?

Extremely. The list is inaccessible to the general public and very few details are required anyway.

I’ve already got one of those cards that goes in your wallet.

This does not guarantee you are on the list. Over 20% of people who think they are on the register are mistaken. You can check online to see if you are.

I’m too old for my organs to be of any use.

Half of donors are over 50 years old.

I’m not white and British. I’m less likely to provide a match for a patient in the UK.

Quite the opposite. Those of Black or South Asian ethnicity are in especially high demand due to lower donor rates and greater requirement in those communities.

I don’t mind donating my kidneys but I’d rather not have people taking my eyes.

You can specify exactly which organs you are happy to donate when you register.

I’m not sure whether my religion allows me to donate.

No major religion is categorically against organ transplants but for reassurance please speak to a faith leader if you’re concerned.

Campaigning

There seems to be an unwritten rule in advertising that goes like this: The more worthwhile the cause, the more controversial the publicity must be. So if you’re an advertising executive in Spain and you’re commissioned to nudge the voting numbers up a bit, just a quick female orgasm allegory should do the trick. But if you’re given the more serious task of discouraging dangerous driving, you’re going to have to seriously ramp it up and drag a bloodied ghost-child into the road.

Organ Donation Registers seem to be about half-way up the ‘worthwhile scale’ judging from the level of controversy of the following Belgian poster that bears the tagline “Becoming a donor is probably your only chance to get inside her”:

Quick Interview with Fay Simcox from the NHS Blood and Transplant service

Are we on target?

It’s vital more people sign up, but yes we are making significant progress towards that target of 25 million in 2013.

How do students usually respond to your campaigns?

We find students to be a very altruistic audience. On all our previous visits to fresher’s fairs, students have responded very well to our request to join the ODR. But I have to say that this reflects the general public who show altruism every day when we go out and campaign on this issue.

How do you suggest a student can help?

Well firstly, join the ODR! If a student wants to create more awareness, the NHSBT would happily support a university campus campaign and we’ll provide free resources like leaflets and posters as well as some useful tips. It’s all on our website.

The best way to campaign

Talk. It is an extraordinarily sensitive conversation but it is one well worth having. Once the subject of organ donation becomes socially acceptable, the myths surrounding it will start to be broken down. No one likes to think about their death but if it can be considered as an opportunity to improve the life of someone else it may become more palatable.

More information and the all-important registration form is available at www.uktransplant.org.uk

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Mike is the Editor of the Wessex Scene for 2011/2012 after fulfilling the role of Features Editor in 2010/2011. Apart from taking charge of the ever-expanding Scene, Mike enjoys writing for a broad range of the sections, though his heart truly lies in reporting and Features.

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