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Let's celebrate organ donation

A donor card

THE BIG IDEA
60 seconds to change the world

Can a simple idea help make the world a better place? Each week, we ask a guest to outline an idea to improve all our lives. Here, medical historian Ruth Richardson suggests that we should recognise those who donate their organs with a special day.

We should celebrate bodily donation.

I don't mean just whole body donation for dissection, but every form of it.

Blood donation, bone, bone marrow, kidneys, eyes, egg, and sperm - organs after death.

We in Britain are very good at celebrating the war dead with great big demonstrations of military might and mourning round the cenotaph.

FROM BBC WORLD SERVICE

But what I'm thinking of is a much more informal type of celebration, which would be a sort of thanksgiving for the decency and compassion of individuals who have gone to donate their blood; those who have died and left organs for transplant and corneas for eyesight.

This sort of celebration would raise the whole profile of bodily generosity in the public agenda internationally.

I think it would be a marvellous thing for the general public to see how many people have benefitted.

So I propose an international donors and recipients day.


Below is a selection of your comments:

My dad received two lungs from a donor and had an extra three and a half years with his family. If it wasn't for the kindness of a stranger we wouldn't have had the extra time with him. Dad sadly died last year, but I wholeheartedly support the idea of a Donor and Recipient Day, and I know he would too.
Claire, Inverness, Scotland

I do not think it is necessary, although I feel the campaign could definitely do with some more publicity. Charitable deeds are carried out because they are enjoyed, or because you are aware that more people need something than you do, not because you want a song and dance to be made about them, which is why when I at the age of 15 joined the organ donor list.
J Warren, Winchester, England

A better idea would for an 'opt-out' card instead of an 'opt-in' card. Make everyone an automatic organ donor unless they opt-out.
John Hayward, Portsmouth, England

My mother was having a hysterectomy when a nurse cut a main artery to her womb. She had to have a total of 12 pints of blood throughout her entire ordeal but was kept alive by O type blood that people had donated. If those people hadn't donated their blood, my mum wouldn't be alive today.
Abby, Leeds, England

If it wasn't for the priceless, unselfish donation of a man and his family, my daughter-in-law would still be having daily dialysis and a very restricted life. Donors should get more credit than they do.
Jean Hodgson, Norwich, England

I'm a blood donor, bring on the praise! It might help encourage younger people to get involved if they have some sort of glory. I know we shouldn't need glory but some people want it.
Luke, Harrogate, England

Recently I had the opportunity to become an organ donor for a friend from church. She had a rare liver disease and had been on the cadaver list for about a year. She was on her last leg and would probably have passed if I hadn't been a match. Fortunately for both of us she is alive, happy and was able to witness the birth of her first grandchild. Recognition in my opinion is not needed as much as awareness and acceptance of the need for such donations.
TJ Zimmerman, Denver, Colorado, United States

As a recipient of a kidney transplant I completely agree there should be a donor day. We in Wales also have a donor stone located in a park in Cardiff which gives a place and opportunity to reflect on the sacrifice and opportunity to help others the donor and their family have made.
Mo, Newport, South Wales

When my dad died two years ago, a few weeks after his death we received a letter saying that because he was on the organ donor list his corneas had been used to give others sight. Knowing that a good thing had come out of such a horrible time made me feel so proud of my dad and I immediately signed up.
Sarah, Northern Ireland

I thanked the family of the man that I received a kidney from but I would like there to be a day each year where I could honour him. I think about him everyday but I would like to commemorate his gift to me of life.
Gaynor, Chester, England

YES! Donations should be the norm, not the exception.
Hanna, Viroqua, USA

I am particularly in favour after having received my 4th renal transplant last year. I owe many thanks to the donor's family and thus feel that there should be a general public consensus that there should be a dedicated day for such a wonderful gift and precious understanding in general.
Shahid Muhammad, Bristol, UK

Yes, I think this is a wonderful idea! I have had a friends who has had a new chance at life due to organ donation and the person who selflessly helped should be recognised and thanked immensely. He now has a little son and is happy an healthy which is a miracle!
Lisa, London, UK

My daughter received a donation of 35 ml of red blood cells. That's about two tablespoons full but it made the world of difference to a tiny premature baby. All donors, great or small, deserve to be recognised.
Lisa, Cambridge, UK

Remembrance Sunday all over the country, not just at the Cenotaph, is a service, a silence, laying of wreaths, a walk past of veterans. You will not see 'great big demonstrations of military might' - a march past of serving armed forces personnel for specific occasions, outside that annual act of Remembrance, is about as far as it gets. A pity that your interesting suggestion is blinded by an unworthy throwaway.
Tom G, London, UK

Can people not make a benevolent gesture without making a huge fuss over it? I'm on the NHS organ donor register but don't want or need any recognition. Benevolence has its own rewards.
Paul, Bristol, UK

No not a good idea I have strong beliefs.
Ceri, UK

I recently donated blood and got treated like a war hero by my friend and workmates for it, and it somehow felt wrong. Shouldn't it be so common place that we don't need to be made a fuss of?
Stephanie, Glenrothes

As much I think it would be nice to be recognised for organ donation, I can't help but feel it's a forced celebration that is unnecessary. I'm an organ donor myself, and even at 17, I don't feel the need to be praised for it; I do it because I want to help someone live after I die (or as I donate).
Nick, Milton Keynes

My brother received a liver transplant just over two yeas ago, we do not know much about the donor but we are forever grateful for the new lease of life this has given him.
Rebecca Platt, Birmingham

Long overdue. My daughter is alive and well 16 years after her heart transplant at Harefield. She would be dead were it not for the heart she received from a young man as a result of a traffic accident. Everyone else needs constant reminders that transplants save lives.
Jennifer Stone, St Genis Pouilly, France

I've given blood 73 times, and I find the TV ads embarrassing enough. Being praised for lying down for ten minutes and then given a cup of tea and a biscuit, with everyone being nice to you? Really! Serious organ donation does require a lot of effort and some risk, but would a 'day' encourage more people? Make people feel more guilty for not getting round it!
Jo Edkins, Cambridge, UK

As a plasma donor, I don't feel the need for this. In Luxembourg when blood donation was regulated, it was stipulated that all public service or commercial companies should give their employees half a day off when they give blood. This rewards my altruistic move quite enough.
Nadine Hengen, Luxembourg

A friend of mine was an organ donor after his death in an accident in 2005. Three people to my knowledge are alive today because of the kindness of his family in agreeing to the organ donation that they felt would be in line with his wishes. I think the kindness and courage it takes to be a donor or someone consenting on behalf of another in extremely devastating circumstances deserves to be recognised with a celebratory day.
Charlotte Morris, London

I'm a kidney recipient, having had my transplant in 1997. I was lucky enough to benefit from a living donation, from my older brother. I think celebrating the altruism of donors would be a fantastic thing and let others think about their own wishes. A specific day where forms and web links were readily available may mean that there's more of a social norm around doing this.
Rebecca Chamberlain, Edinburgh

I received stem cells from my sister not once but twice. She saved my life and has given me chance to be around to see my own children grow up. She remains modest and unassuming about what she has done but she has changed my life. Thank you Liz.
Sarah, Malvern, UK

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