Organ donor register boosted by campaign

ALMOST 6,500 people have responded to a plea for more organ donors in East Anglia in just one month - providing the potential to save thousands of lives.

ALMOST 6,500 people have responded to a plea for more organ donors in East Anglia in just one month - providing the potential to save thousands of lives.

Many of those are EADT readers who have backed the newspaper's Sign for Life campaign, and UK Transplant bosses last night voiced their delight at the response.

The extra people have joined the organ donor register in the last month since the EADT re-launched its campaign - and every one of them has the potential to save up to eight lives.

Fourteen people have died in the region since April last year while waiting for an organ transplant.

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Around 350 patients are still awaiting life-saving transplants in the post code areas of Ipswich, Colchester, Chelmsford, Norwich, Romford and Southend.

Last night, a spokesman for UK Transplant said: “Awareness campaigns such as the East Anglian Daily Times' undoubtedly play an important role in raising the life-saving issue of organ transplants.

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“Every person who joins the NHS Organ Donor Register offers real hope to the 8,000-plus people needing a transplant - so the 6,396 people from East Anglia who have joined the ODR in the last month is a fantastic achievement.

“For those who have not yet signed up, we would encourage them to think about it, discuss it with their family and then take that vital next step.”

Thousands of transplant patients across the country face an anxious wait each day for an organ donor to become available. In many cases an operation is their only hope of survival.

Earlier this month, we revealed how mother-of-two Gail Markillie, from Great Blakenham, near Ipswich, had been told by doctors she only had a year to live unless she received a heart transplant.

The part-time data preparer was struck down by meningitis, pneumonia and septicaemia in February 2005 and while in intensive care suffered a serious heart attack. This left her heart so weak that she had trouble breathing.

But last week Mrs Markillie received the best Valentine's gift ever - a new heart.

The 51-year-old received a telephone call on Tuesday saying a donor had become available and at 1.30am on Valentine's Day she was taken into theatre for the live-saving transplant.

A member of the family said she was doing well in hospital last night and added he was delighted that so many people had signed the NHS Organ Donor Register since Mrs Markillie's plight was revealed.

Up to eight lives could be saved by a single donor with the main organs in the body, the heart, the two kidneys, liver, two lungs and bowel.

But a donor can enhance lots of lives substantially with tissue such as heart valves or corneas.

Each cornea donor could restore the sight of two people.

Skin can be used to treat serious burns victims. Bone can help people suffering with bone cancer.

Barry Gould, from Campsea Ashe, near Woodbridge, knows only too well how life-changing a transplant can be.

The grandfather-of-two fell ill just before Christmas 2005. It was initially thought he had a chest infection but he later underwent an angioplasty in London - a medical procedure to open narrowed or blocked coronary arteries.

The 64-year-old retired co-partner of Felixstowe International Shipping was given a year to live but just 24 hours after being placed on the transplant register he received a new heart.

You can join the NHS Organ Donor Register by contacting 0845 6060400 or by visiting

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