Tuesday, 2 March 2010

Manchester NHSBT roadshow

Left to right: James Colbeck with mum Lynn Colbeck, the tin (wo)man, Lynnette Wakefield, me (in wheelchair) Sarah Higginson holding 8wk old Edward Higginson, Holly Shaw, Jonathan Higginson and Donor Transplant Co-ordinator Dawn Lee.

On 19th Feb I got the chance to attend the NHS blood and transplant roadshow. The organ donation campaign took to the road and was visiting cities across the country. I was invitied along with LLTGL advocate Holly, James & Lynn Colbeck and the Higginson family to promote organ donation at the Manchester roadshow. Before hand I got an email explaining who the attendees were. James had received a kidney from his mum Lynn and is now fit and healthy thanks to her gift. He scooped 3 gold medals last year in the british transplant games, find out more about his story here. The Higginson family are a donor family.
I've never seen organ donation from the other side of the coin. I've been friends with people that have died waiting for organs and thought how unfair it is and how critical it is to get more donors signed up but I've never met a donor family, never had a chance to talk to them and it was an eye opener. Sarah and Jonathan lost their 10 yr old son George last August and 6 of his organs went on to save the lives of 5 people.George Higginson
I got a chance to talk to them about George, look at pictures, hear exactly what happened. In Jonathan's words "George was not your run of the mill kid at all, he was very different in so many ways. He was known at school as Overtons little scientist. Both Sarah and myself did worry about George's vulnerability with life. For the two weeks prior to his accident, I felt that George was going to be taken from us, and the feeling was getting stronger up to the point he left us. I think his purpose in life is far more outreaching than the 5 lives he saved from his wish to be an organ donor". At just 9yrs old George had expressed a wish to be an organ donor should he die after seeing a medical program on TV, infact he asked why people wouldn’t want to donate their organs... At age 9!George enjoying the football
From what I heard about him he certainly seemed like one amazing little boy. After we'd done a few hours on site at the roadshow, we jumped into taxi's and were taken to the BBC studios for a local news report on organ donation (you can see that here).
As the others were being filmed Sarah and Jonathan told me about George's accident. George was crossing a road on his bike, the first road he'd ever crossed by himself. He never made it to the other side. He was knocked over by a pick up trick, he was placed on life support in an intensive care unit but it was later confirmed he was brain stem dead. Jonathan and Sarah spoke of their relief that George got the chance to be an organ donor, that something so positive was come out of their tragedy. When filming, I sat behind the scenes watching, as Sarah struggled with one of her sentences whilst talking about her son and filled up a little on camera I burst into tears.They talked about George with more pride than I've ever seen, they are so very proud of him and the difference he's made to the lives of 5 strangers. For me, on the list, it was slightly surreal to meet them and gave me more understanding about what organ donation means to donor families, I feel privileged to have met them and heard all about their amazing and gorgeous little boy. I'll leave the last word to Jonathan.
"Meeting people like yourself makes me so very proud of my sons gift, and if we can get the message across for everybody's wishes to be registered, then your wait will be greatly shortened". What an amazing family. If you support organ donation, like little George did at age 9 prove it, register online.
The roadshows have now come to an end they resulted in 7000 people signing up and many more taking away leaflets.
Pictures and permission to share George's story obtained from the Higginson family, please do not use without permission.

1 comment:

  1. Young George is a true hero and its so brave of his parents to actively talk about him in this context. It must be incredibly hard. I'm proud of you for going to the roadshow and being a face to represent the facts xx