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I'd- Tommy McCroy Like- Iain Craig To- Paul Monaghan Be- David Hodgson An- David Mulheron Organ- Eamon Crowe Donor- Harry Laurie

Cabbies drive home organ donation wishes

Glasgow cabbies have united to urge people to speak up about organ donation as they met up for a ‘wee chat’ about their wishes.

Glasgow Taxis Ltd staff, renowned for having the gift of the gab, backed the Organ Donation Scotland campaign in a bid to encourage Scots to make their organ donation wishes known and help the 550 people currently waiting on a transplant.

Statistics show family members are twice as likely to agree for donation to proceed if they know it’s what a loved one would have wanted. By saying the seven words, “I’d like to be an organ donor”, up to seven lives can be saved.

However, although many think joining the NHS Organ Donor Register is enough, sharing organ donation wishes remains fundamental to relatives honouring a loved one’s choices in the event of their death.

The call comes as research shows that almost half of people in Scotland (45 per cent) haven’t discussed their organ donation wishes with their family, and one in ten (12 per cent) of those who are on the NHS Organ Donor Register haven’t spoken to loved ones about their decision.

Stephen Flynn, vice chairman of Glasgow City Taxis Ltd, said: “It’s fair to say our staff enjoy a good blether with their passengers and we pride ourselves on the welcome we give our customers. If those who support organ donation can use their chat to help spread an important message and get people talking, then we’re more than happy to add their voices to the campaign.

“It seems like a small thing that makes a very big difference. If everyone who supports organ donation made the time for a chat, more lives could be saved.”

With three people in the UK dying every day due to not getting the transplant they need in time, sharing organ donation wishes and joining the NHS Organ Donor Register can save and transform lives.

Since 2010/11, the family authorisation rate for organ donation – when a family member agrees that donation can proceed – has increased from 57.1 per cent to 61.6 per cent. If the rate was to further increase to 80 per cent, around 90 more lives could be saved each year.

Gillian Blair, 45, from Bearsden, Glasgow, received a kidney and pancreas transplant in December 2011.

Despite being diagnosed as diabetic as a young girl, Gillian had managed to keep her condition under control for many years and led a perfectly normal life. It wasn’t until Gillian visited her GP because she was having difficulty conceiving that she was given the devastating news.

She said: “I was in my early thirties and my husband and I were having problems trying to conceive, so I went to the doctor. They ran some initial tests and when the results came back, I was told that my kidneys were failing and if I were to fall pregnant it could kill me.

“I felt perfectly healthy at the time, so I really wasn’t expecting anything could be so dramatically wrong.”

Gillian spent the next ten years managing her condition through medication and a strict diet. During this time, Gillian and her husband had a baby boy via a surrogate. However, eventually her symptoms became so severe that she had no choice but to begin dialysis and was placed on the waiting list for a kidney and pancreas transplant.

Gillian said: “It was really hard going. I had a one year old baby to look after as well as a full-time job as an occupational therapist. Dialysis is really exhausting and takes up so much of your time, and waiting for a transplant takes over your whole life.

“It became almost impossible for me to organise anything or make plans as everything had to revolve around my three-times a week dialysis sessions. I also didn’t want to do anything that would mean being away from my phone, as I was constantly wondering when I’d receive the call to say there was a potential match.”

That call finally came for Gillian in December 2011. She headed straight for the transplant unit at the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh where she discovered that the pancreas and kidney were a suitable match for her and then underwent her transplant.

She said: “When I woke up after my surgery, I couldn’t believe how wonderful I felt. I didn’t realise how ill I had actually been until I felt well again. I expected it would take me a while to feel back to full health, but it was an instant transformation.

“I was overwhelmed with gratitude to my donor and to their family who agreed to donation going ahead at what must have been an incredibly difficult time for them. If it wasn’t for my donor, I might not be here today.

“It’s so important to discuss organ donation with your loved ones so they know how you feel about it. It’s not an easy conversation to have, but it means that should they ever need to make that decision, they can honour your wishes.”

People can find out more and joint he NHS Organ Donor Register at organdonationscotland.org