An Oswestry mother whose son’s life was saved thanks to an organ donor is calling for people to talk about it.
Emma Harrison wants people to break down the barriers on the taboo subject after new figures revealed 29 people died in Shropshire in the past decade while waiting for a transplant.
NHS Blood and Transplant released the figures earlier this month as part of Organ Donation Week.
And Emma, whose son Oliver received a heart donation four years ago, is backing their call for people to tell their families they want to become donors.
Oliver Harrison and his mum, Emma, pictured shortly before his life-saving operation in 2013
She said: “It is a subject that obviously isn’t massively popular.
“When someone has died it is a horrifying time. But if a loved one is going to die, then to give life to someone else, for that person not to have died in vain, is a fantastic gift.
“I’ve been on the receiving end and it is a phenomenal thing to do.
“I don’t think anyone would refuse an organ, but if people speak more about it in a positive way it takes that massive decision away from their family when they are in that awful situation.
“The last thing you want to think about is giving to someone else, but if that decision has already been made and they have spoken about what they want, then it is their last wish you can grant.”
Oliver had suffered with heart problems since birth with only half of the organ functioning. He underwent his first major surgery at just three days old.
But now, at the age of nine, he is very much looking ahead and has become a keen sportsman and is focused on his education at Bellan House.
Emma, of Lawrence Direct in Oswestry, continued: “The family of Oliver’s donor are the most amazing people to me, but the young person had had a conversation about it with her parents.
“Oliver would have died without it. He was so sick.
“For me as a mum, I can now see him as I’ve never seen him before. I go to pick him up from football training and he’s a member of Oswestry Cricket Club.
“It has been a massive change of life.”
Oliver even took part in the Transplant Games again last year, which actively promotes organ donation.
Emma added: “Lots of my friends say they wouldn’t have spoken about organ donation if it wasn’t for Oliver – we wouldn’t be having this conversation now, for instance.
“That is why awareness and conversation of organ donation is so important.”
Anthony Clarkson, assistant director of organ donation and transplantation for NHS Blood and Transplant, said currently there are 37 people in Shropshire awaiting a transplant – but they will receive that life-changing call only if people ensure their families know they want to be a donor.
He added: “If you want to save lives, don’t leave it too late to talk to your family.
“In Shropshire there are more than 180,000 people on the NHS Organ Donor Register. However, if you want to be a donor, your family’s support is still needed for donation to go ahead.”
See full story in the Advertizer