Thursday, 2 October 2008

On the road

One of our key activities in helping to increase the number of organ donors is giving talks to various interested parties about the difference transplants can make, whether that is to local community groups, schools, medical conferences, hospitals and government departments. We at Live Life then Give Life are intimately connected to all kinds of people affected by transplantation and all of our trustees have had or will need transplants, and therefore we can speak passionately and knowledgeably about why transplants are so important.

This week therefore we were excited that Emma, along with Colin Prior from the Lewis Prior Foundation and Pauline Weaver from the Donor Family Network, were able to give a presentation at the Paediatric Symposium held at Alder Hey in Liverpool. This event was a really great opportunity for them to speak about transplants to a wide audience and was particularly important as a lot of people in attendance were those on the "front-line" of organ donation: Intensive Care and Accident and Emergency nurses who support the families of loved ones that have died or are on life-support.

Emma's 20 minute talk and PowerPoint presentation began with a little bit about our mission and history before outlining the huge problems with organ donation and transplantation that we at LLTGL are trying to tackle. We included a slide of 8 of our young friends we have lost due to the shortage of organ donors and to demonstrate just what spurs us on to keep going.

Emma and Colin Prior

Emma then passed over to Colin to tell his family's experience of his son Lewis Prior's wait in vain for a heart transplant. Colin's emotive speech so articulately demonstrated the need for more organ donors that a lot of the audience were in tears as they listened to his painful and emotional story. We are so grateful to Colin for having the courage to speak to such a large audience about the loss of his son Lewis. His talk had such a major impact on all who hear it and showed the stark and painful reality of the donor shortage in a way that we could have never done alone. If you get a chance, we'd be happy if you could visit the Prior Family's charity website set up in memory of Lewis at

Emma then concluded before passing on to Pauline to answer questions and talk about her experience as a donor family. The questions from the floor were enlightening as it seemed many struggled with approaching potential donor families at a time of such grief for fear of making the situation worse. Pauline's incredibly powerful reply was " How could it possibly make it worse? Nothing can get any worse at that point, you've just lost the most important person in your world, how will that upset you further? Its actually offering a glimmer of hope. Every family should have the right to be asked. All I knew was that I had the chance to give another family what I wanted so much but couldn't have."

The feedback from our section of the talk was incredibly positive. Our stall at the conference, set up with our leaflets, trolley coins, material from UK Transplant and Sue and Richard Cansdale's Transforming Lives book proved extremely popular and Emma got some good chances to speak and make contact with many of the conference attendees.

Finally, we were happy that Emma was able to meet up with Holly Shaw, one of our advocates, and her parents for a meal in Liverpool and to catch up on her Battlefront campaign, which is currently getting support in mind-boggling proportions! The USA transplant community is now aware of her need for votes and is piling them in, along with lovely comments too. If you haven't yet voted for her campaign, please pop on over and show your support with a vote and message about what organ donation means to you.

Emma and Holly

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