Campaign looking for 1,000 Plymouth people to become organ donors
THE Herald is today launching its Gift Of Life campaign – to inspire an extra 1,000 city people to become organ donors in memory of an "inspirational" young man who died while on the waiting list.
Jon Paul Oxley, who had chronic cystic fibrosis, died at the beginning of September following a lung infection. The 21-year-old was waiting for a life-saving double lung transplant when he lost his battle.
The Herald, along with Jon Paul's family and Plymouth Hospitals NHS Trust, is now urging more people in the city to help save a life and sign up to the Organ Donor Register.
Herald editor Ian Wood said: "We are hoping to give the Organ Donor Register a boost by working with Plymouth Hospitals NHS Trust to get another 1,000 people in the city signed up.
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"Through this campaign we hope to raise awareness of how becoming an organ donor can help to save the lives of people not only in Plymouth but throughout the country."
According to NHS Blood and Transplant there are currently 81,370 people in the city signed up to the register, around 31.5 per cent of the population.
Following her son's death Jill Oxley said she would like to see a change in the law to an opt-out system, meaning everyone would automatically be an organ donor unless they chose not to be.
She said local residents should think "seriously" about the consequences of not signing the register.
"My family and I are putting out a heartfelt plea to the people of Plymouth to join The Herald's campaign and sign the Organ Donor Register to help save lives," Mrs Oxley said. "If you are prepared to accept an organ then you should be prepared to give one too. It could save a life – it's as simple as that.
"To the other 70 per cent of people in Plymouth not on the register, I would like you to think seriously about your decision.
"As Jon Paul said, your organs are no good to you when you're dead – you might as well help someone else to live.
"I know it's a hard decision to make but people need to start thinking seriously about doing this.
"It is the difference between life and death for many people. Come on Plymouth – live life, give life."
Dr Mark Sair, clinical lead for organ donation at Plymouth Hospitals NHS Trust, said he was pleased the trust was working with The Herald to launch the campaign.
He said: "When asked, 97 per cent of people say they would accept an organ if they needed one, yet unfortunately only a third of these are registered on the organ donor register.
"The Herald and of course Jon Paul's family have tirelessly highlighted the plight of those waiting for a transplant and the desperate need for more people to come forward and register."
James Harrison, a specialist nurse for organ donation, added: "We're delighted that The Herald is launching this campaign. Please join the register and tell your family of your wishes."
JON PAUL - THE YOUNG HERO WHO INSPIRED A CAMPAIGN
JON Paul Oxley was described by most who met him as an “inspirational” young charity campaigner who always put others before himself.
He fought chronic cystic fibrosis for more than 20 years and passed away surrounded by family and friends on Thursday, September 6 – a week after his 21st birthday.
Jon Paul, from Chaddlewood, had been on the transplant waiting list for 19 months when he died.
He had received five calls to say lungs had become available since being put on the waiting list in February 2011.
But each time he travelled by ambulance to the specialist Harefield Hospital transplant centre in Middlesex he was told the organs were not viable.
Jon Paul had offered to donate his heart valves, the only part of his body suitable for donation due to his illness.
But his family have since been told they cannot be used because of the medication he was taking.
Having won a string of community awards for his tireless charity work and sports achievements, Jon Paul was loved by all who knew him.
Over the years Jon Paul raised more than £12,000 for the Cystic Fibrosis Trust in the hope of helping other sufferers of the condition.
He was named a Herald Young Hero in 2010 and received the Marjorie Lynden Stannator Award for his charity work.
The devoted youngster also received a Lifetime Achievement accolade at the Pride of Plymouth awards in 2009.
And in spite of enduring a painful wait for a transplant, he remained busy to the end of his life organising one of his popular charity football matches between the city’s doctors and nurses.
Jon Paul’s family have decided to continue his fight to get more people to join the Organ Donor Register.
HOW TO SIGN UP TO THE CAMPAIGN
Join The Herald’s Gift Of Life campaign and help save lives by completing THE FORM and sending to: FREEPOST RRZK-SHUX-SBCK, NHS Blood and Transplant, Fox Den Road, Stoke Gifford, Bristol, BS34 8RR.
Alternatively visit www.organdonation.nhs.uk, or call the NHS Donor Line on 0300 123 23 23. Lines are open 24 hours a day all year round. Calls are charged at contracted rate for local calls.
People can also join when they are registering for a driving licence, applying for a Boots Advantage card, registering at a GP surgery or registering for a European Health Insurance card (EHIC).