Council encourages staff to join organ donor register

  |  Published: Sep 12th 2016

A council is actively encouraging its staff to join the organ donor register – in honour of a past chairman whose life was saved by a liver transplant.

Buckinghamshire County Council is urging thousands of workers to sign up to become donors as a tribute to the unknown woman whose liver saved long-serving councillor Bill Chapple OBE.

Officials and other councillors decided to start an internal campaign after Bill's moving story became public for the first time at the beginning of the year.

Three years ago, Bill, now 63, was given roughly two weeks to live if a donor couldn’t be found for him.

“I was suffering from non-alcoholic cirrhosis caused by a fatty liver. and was told that if I didn’t have a transplant within roughly a fortnight it would be too late,” he revealed.

“Then a woman in her 50s died suddenly and I was given her liver. I don’t know who she was because we are not allowed to know – but without her, I wouldn’t be here today and wouldn’t have been able to give my daughter away in marriage and I wouldn't have met my young grandchildren.”

During his Chairmanship last Christmas, he placed a thank you note to the donor on a tree at a remembrance ceremony at South Bucks Hospice in High Wycombe, where he was a special guest along with other dignitaries and TV star Pauline Quirke. He then told of his health battle in an effort to spur others to join the donor register.

Now, following the end of his chairmanship in May, colleagues at the Council have decided to turn his call for more donors into a full-blown campaign and are urging other local authorities to follow suit.

John Chilver, Cabinet Member for Resources, said: “We were all very touched by Bill’s story and it really resonated with a lot of people here.

“It’s clear that organ donations save lives, so the more people on the register, the more lives will be saved.

“As a large employer, with thousands of staff, it’s within our powers to advertise this to a lot of people. They don’t have to sign up to the register, and we fully respect the right of those who don’t wish to join up, but the least we can do to help here is to spread awareness.”

The Council’s campaign includes:

  • Posters around the offices;
  • Adverts on the intranet;
  • ‘Call-to-action’ stories in online newsletters;
  • Presentations to staff;
  • Invitations to the public to register by adding a link at the end of online transactions

Bill added: "Before you are allowed a transplant you must attend two days of training with your family so that you are all aware of what you will be experiencing. The aftercare is extensive and could take up to 18 months, and without your family involvement  you could not survive.  Likewise, if you become a donor you need to tell your family so that your wishes can be carried out, a truly team effort. I will also be lobbying the Government so that you have to opt out of donating rather than opting in as is currently the situation."

Sally Johnson, Director of Organ Donation and Transplantation at NHS Blood and Transplant, said:  “We’re very grateful to every family in Buckinghamshire who supported a relative’s decision to donate or who made the decision to donate on behalf of their relative last year. Quite simply, without them being willing to support donation more than 3,500 transplants couldn’t have taken place in the UK.  Many families in Buckinghamshire tell us they take huge comfort in knowing that their relative has saved the lives of others.

"We recognise that families are approached about organ donation at a difficult time, but with almost all of us prepared to take an organ if we need one, we need to be ready to donate too.  Think about what we would want others to do for us if we ever need a transplant and be prepared to donate.  Talking to your relatives about what you want is crucial as it is much more difficult to agree to donation when you don’t know what the patient would have wanted.  There are 95 people in Buckinghamshire waiting for a transplant now and they need people to agree to donate for them to get the organ transplant they so desperately need."

To join the NHS Organ Donor Register visit www.organdonation.nhs.uk or call 0300 123 2323.

For a video of this story, go to: https://youtu.be/2MuGzvCtdbE

Poignant ceremony: Bill Chapple with TV star Pauline Quirke
Poignant ceremony: Bill Chapple with TV star Pauline Quirke
Organ donation campaign: Bill Chapple, left, with BCC Leader Martin Tett
Organ donation campaign: Bill Chapple, left, with BCC Leader Martin Tett
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