Today marks one year since Max and Keira’s law was made official, the law around organ donation changing to an Opt-Out system in England. Looking back on the last year, which was filled with uncertainty, today is certainly a day for celebration.
For many years we worked closely with the Mirror newspaper’s campaign to Change the Law for Life, sharing your very own stories and experiences of having a child on the transplant list. We continue to work closely with the paper and NHS Blood and Transplant and many other organisations to raise awareness of organ donation. Since the law change an incredible 296 people have donated their organs, this accounts for 29% of all donors (1,021) since 20 May 2020 and resulted in a total of 714 organs being transplanted (Source: BBC). According to NHS Blood and Transplant, while most people think it’s important to talk about organ donation, less than half have. Today as we celebrate, I would like to encourage you and your families to have the conversation, give your loved ones the certainty they need to support your decision at a difficult time.
Today is a reminder that together we can create change and have an impact. As an organisation we’ve helped bring about this change for adults in England, and while it doesn’t affect children on the transplant list, we hope that by encouraging you to have open and honest conversations more children’s lives will be saved.
Despite the pandemic, at The Sick Children’s Trust four of our ‘Homes from Home’ have supported families with children on the transplant list. We have managed to keep 41 families together by offering them a place to stay in Scott House, Eckersley House, Guilford Street House and Rainbow House while their child waits for a lifesaving donor organ. Like Aria’s parents, Ryan and Autumn. Ryan stayed with us at Eckersley House when Autumn donated part of her liver and it was transplanted into Aria. He could be there for both his partner and baby daughter.
We’ve enabled families to be together throughout the agonising wait, together at the moment they’ve received the call to say an organ has become available and together when they make their way home.
The pandemic couldn’t keep us from opening our doors to these families in need, and many more like them, however we know that 2021 is going to be equally as challenging for us. It costs us £30 to support a family for one night with a place to stay in one of our ‘Homes from Home’.
Help us continue to be there for families by making a donation, holding a fundraiser or joining a challenge.
Jane Featherstone, Chief Executive at The Sick Children’s Trust