Last year our good friends Daryl and Liz told us of the declining health of their son, Matthew, now 23 years old, who has cystic fibrosis. Daryl was matter-of-fact in describing Matt's exhausting daily treatment just to make sure he continued to be able to breathe, his reliance on oxygen, his host of medication to keep him alive, and his desperate need for a new set of lungs, without which he would die.
After three false alarms, Matt and his parents made the dash from Bristol to the transplant unit in Birmingham once more last September, hardly daring to hope that the operation would go ahead this time. It did and Matthew's life has been transformed. No more daily pummeling, no more being tied for 24 hours a day to an oxygen cylinder, being able to go for a walk, to travel (prior to the operation he had to remain within 4 hours of Birmingham at all times), to lead a normal life and plan for the future.
We saw Matt and his family last weekend, just before he and his sister, Jennie, left for Manchester, for Matt to appear on breakfast TV on Sunday morning. He was fantastic.
When asked about organ donation, in his typically kind and generous manner, Matt said that if you don't want to donate your organs posthumously, that's fine, but if you do, for goodness sake please tell your family. Because if the medics are looking to use your organs on your death, they first seek the permission of your family. And if your family refuse, that's the end of the matter.
My message is simple -
1. If you are not on the organ donation register, get on it. Now. Here's the link:
2. Tell your next of kin and others in your immediate family of your wishes, in the event of your death.
3. Please support any campaign to extend the opt-out scheme (where you are automatically on the donor register unless you opt out) to England.
Thanks for reading this.
Glasgow MSP Anne McTaggart will seek support from fellow MSPs for her proposed Organ Donation (Scotland) Member's Bill on Tuesday. The Bill proposes to amend the current "opt-in" system of organ donation in Scotland, whereby those wishing to become a donor are encouraged to add their name to the NHS organ donation register. The UK has one of the lowest organ donation rates in Europe and while only 5% of the population oppose organ donation in principle, less than 40% of people are registered as organ donors, according to Scottish Government research.