Page last updated at 12:24 GMT, Thursday, 22 January 2009

Boy urges donors to 'save a life'

Aaron Gray
Aaron Gray underwent his transplant operation aged three

A 12-year-old Scottish boy who would have been "sent home to die" without the help of organ donors has urged more people to sign up to donate.

Aaron Gray, 12, from Peebles, was given a new liver and small bowel in a transplant operation in 2000.

He said: "I wouldn't be here if it weren't for the donor family."

He appealed for more people to sign up as new figures showed organ waiting lists were rising despite the donor register reaching an all-time high.

More than 1.6 million people in Scotland have agreed to donate their organs after death, more than any other part of the UK.

It could be an adult, it could be a child, it just depends - you can save their life
Aaron Gray

Scottish Health Secretary Nicola Sturgeon said "a great milestone" had been reached, but said too many people were still dying because they could not get donated organs.

However, the number of people waiting for an organ is also rising and is currently almost 800.

Aaron said that his own experience showed just how important it was to commit to making a donation.

"I got a new liver and small bowel because I was going to be sent home to die if I didn't," he said.

He said that meant it was vital for more people to make a donor pledge.

Aaron Gray
Aaron, now aged 12, lives a very active life

"I think it would be really good if other people could sign up," he said.

"A lot of people have signed up already and we would really appreciate it if more people could sign up as well."

Aaron said that donors could make a real difference.

He said: "It could be an adult, it could be a child, it just depends - you can save their life."

NHS Blood and Transplant has also called on more people to sign up.

Across the UK, there are 16 million people on the register - 26% of the population.

In Scotland the figure is 1,624,000 - 32% of the local population

There are 796 people waiting for an organ transplant operation - 156 people per million.

Transforming lives

Urging people to join the donor register Lynda Hamlyn, chief executive of NHSBT, said: "If you have already signed up, please talk to your friends and relatives about doing so.

"Every time someone joins, they offer the possibility of transforming someone else's life and the lives of their families through their generosity."

Most organs arise from people dying but about one in three of all kidney transplants involves a living donor, usually a family member or partner.

Despite the figures, Ms Sturgeon warned there was no room to be complacent, adding: "We must not only continue to channel the general willingness across the population to donate their organs into registrations on the NHS Organ Donor Register, but also translate that into actual organ donations.

"Too many people are still dying because they cannot obtain a donated organ, which is a tragedy we must do everything possible to prevent."

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