Bradford College is sharing the message on how blood and organ donation saves lives.
With the law on organ donation changing this spring, the college is launching an awareness campaign to break down myths around the subject and increase support for those considering becoming a donor.
The college is working with NHS Blood and Transplant to educate communities through the BAME Community Investment Scheme, part of a Government-funded campaign to address the critical shortage of organ donors from those ethnic backgrounds.
Nosheen Qamer, Student Services Team Leader – Personal Development, said: “We’re really excited to be part of this important awareness campaign.
“We hope to ensure our staff and students have all the information they need on organ donation, they understand how they can become organ donors and that they can discuss this topic with their friends and family.”
The campaign is being launched at a special event at the college’s Bronte Lecture Theatre on Thursday 27 February, where staff and students will hear first-hand experiences from a transplant recipient, a surgeon and a donor family. Religious representatives will talk about what different faiths believe about donating organs.
There to share her experience will be Bradford College Special Projects Officer Karen Piotr. When Karen's husband Mark died suddenly in May 2017, their previous conversations about organ donation empowered Karen to make the decision for Mark to be a donor. After Karen was told by doctors that there was nothing that could be done to save Mark’s life, her decision was immediate. She said: “Do whatever you need to do.”
“There were between eight and 12 people who could benefit,” she said. “I thought of all those people who could be getting ‘the phone call’. They had been waiting for weeks, months.
“Mark was such a giver. He was an amazing person who would do anything for anybody. He would have been so amazed that this was what he would be able to do.”
In total, eight people received life-saving organ transplants following Mark’s death. Among them was a 19-year-old man who received Mark’s heart. Sheffield-based artist Pete McKee had a life-saving liver transplant thanks to Karen and Mark and, in a letter to Karen, said: “I can never thank you enough.”
Karen said this was possible as she had had that important conversation with Mark about organ donation. “I’m very grateful for where this has taken me, that I’m able to raise awareness.
“The support I’ve received from members of staff has been amazing. To be nearly three years down the line after Mark’s death and to be able to be part of the campaign to raise awareness is an honour.”
From spring 2020, all adults in England will be considered as having agreed to donate their organs when they die unless they record a decision not to donate, known as ‘opt out’, or are in one of the groups not covered by the new law.
The launch event will be followed by workshops over the next academic year to ensure every participant is aware of the opt-out system and how it will affect them from the age of 18. Further workshops will address common myths, tackle existing attitudes, identify barriers affecting Bradford and answer any questions students may have. Those taking part will be able to discover more about and discuss the urgent need for organ donors, how organ donation takes place, when organ donation is possible and, finally, why talking to family about their wishes for organ donation is so important.
You can find out more about your choices on the NHS Organ Donor Register at the NHS Blood and Transplant website.