On Sunday, we stopped off at Harefield Hospital on our way back home so we could take part in the Guinness World Record attempt to have the largest gathering of heart transplant patients. We didn't quite beat the world record, but we made a new European record of 185 heart and heart/lung transplant patients being together at the same time. We had a great time, meeting up with so many friends and meeting new ones. It was a very positive event to take part in and there was something amazing about being amongst another 184 heart transplant recipients. I think it showed what a fantastic and miraculous gift organ donation can be and was a fantastic way to raise awareness of organ donation ahead of National Transplant Week.
Monday was another busy day when Chris from our local radio station, Bob FM visited us and recorded an interview about the shortage of organ donors and the benefits that receiving a transplant can bring. The radio ran the story every hour during the afternoon and evening, which was fantastic, as statistics show that the number of transplants taking place are lower than last year and that almost 17 million people still haven't decided whether to sign up to be organ donors or not.
Our local newspaper then phoned for an interview and ran a piece on National Transplant Week and the world record attempt, which was great for raising more awareness.
Every little bit helps spread the word and if it doesn't encourage people to sign up, I always hope it puts organ donation in people's minds and that they might at least have the discussion about it with their families. Obviously signing up to the register is extremely important, but many transplants aren't able to go ahead because families refuse to give consent. This is often because they have no idea what their loved ones wishes are and it is too hard a decision to face during such a harrowing time. Just having the discussion can make a huge difference.
We rounded up our week by attending a meeting at my transplant centre, where we had chance to meet and speak with one of the doctors who has played a prominent part in the research and development of non-beating heart transplants and also chat with a patient who had recently received one. It is thanks to patients like this, who are willing to take new risks, that these huge advancements are made. We were shown the organ care machine and how it keeps the heart beating until it is transplanted, which was interesting.
These recent developments are ground-breaking and are already making a difference by increasing the amount of heart transplants taking place. The doctor advised me that one of their next challenges will be to develop this process for heart-lung transplants, as currently many patients have to face and endure extremely long waits on the transplant list. I know this from my own experience having to wait over two years and I have friends who have had to wait much longer, so this will be an incredible breakthrough one day.