Scottish Government
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Organ donation campaign launched

A new campaign designed to encourage Scots to sign up to the NHS Organ Donor Register has been launched yesterday.

The TV and radio campaign starts as the latest figures show that over 40 per cent of Scots have now joined the NHS Organ Donor Register– the highest percentage in the UK.

The campaign has been designed to get people talking about organ donation,  to make their wishes known to their loved ones and to join the Register.

The campaign is backed by transplant patient Samantha Bell from Cambuslang.

Samantha was diagnosed with severe cardiomyopathy in her early twenties. Her condition deteriorated and in 2010, Samantha’s heart stopped while she was out for dinner with her boyfriend and his family.

Last year she underwent a heart transplant that saved her life.

Public Health Minister Michael Matheson said:  

“I am very grateful to Samantha for telling her story and for backing our new campaign to get people talking about organ donation and increase the number of people on the NHS Organ Donor Register.

“Samantha’s story is a very real example of how important organ donation is, and how joining the Register could save lives.

“This new campaign has two simple yet equally important messages – join the Register and have a chat about organ donation with your family and loved ones.

"It can be easy to put off such conversations but the reality is that more than 600 people in Scotland are waiting for a life-saving transplant and across the UK three people die every day because they don't get the organ they need in time. 

“That forty per cent of Scots are now on the Register - more than ever before and higher than the UK average of 31 per cent – shows we are on the right track."

Samantha, a bank worker from Drumsagard in Cambuslang, was diagnosed with severe cardiomyopathy at the age of 22. She underwent a lifesaving operation last year and is now backing the drive for more Scots to talk about organ donation with their loved ones and  to join the Register.

Severe cardiomyopathy is normally a condition associated with middle age, and means the heart could stop at any time.

After being diagnosed, Samantha was fitted with a mini defibrillator inside her chest which would work like a pacemaker and help regulate her heart beat, but would also shock her heart back to life if it stopped working.

After five years Samantha’s condition deteriorated, and in 2010, her heart stopped while she was out for dinner with her boyfriend and his family.

Doctors told Samantha that she needed to be assessed for a heart transplant.

She said: “When doctors told me I was really confused. I knew it was the best thing but no matter how much information I had, I was still scared and didn’t know what to expect.

“You need to be ill enough for a transplant but well enough to survive the operation and I knew my health was deteriorating. 

“In February 2011 I went for the assessment to determine if I could be placed on the transplant waiting list. They had to check that my other organs could withstand the operation and in March of that year I was listed for transplant.”

But just two months later Samantha became gravely ill and was admitted to the Golden Jubilee National Hospital.

She said: “I desperately needed a new heart and doctors moved me onto the urgent heart transplant list. I didn’t have time to wait, if I didn’t get a new heart soon I would die.”

After eight weeks, in July last year, a suitable heart became available.

Samantha said: “The last thing I remember was thinking about what would happen when I came out and all the things I would be able to do. I had been in hospital for about three months by this point and I knew I was seriously ill so I was focusing on the positives.”

Samantha’s transplant was a success, and now, a year on from her op, she is focusing on the future.

She said: “The staff at the Golden Jubilee were fantastic to me and I was finally able to leave hospital, just three weeks after my operation.

“I know I’ll get back to full fitness again and I have my donor to thank for that. They gave me the gift of life and I can’t thank their family enough.

“Joining the NHS Organ Donor Register is the most amazing thing anyone can do. I would encourage everyone to take two minutes and join now.  Remember to let your family know what your wishes are so they can act on them if necessary”

Related information:

Join the NHS Organ Donor Register by visiting the Organ Donation Scotland website or by texting LIFE TO 61611.

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