Page last updated at 05:43 GMT, Tuesday, 13 May 2008 06:43 UK

Organ donors told to tell family

Connie Fisher, James Hook, Colin Jackson and Ruth Madoc
Connie Fisher, James Hook, Colin Jackson and Ruth Madoc are backing the campaign

Getting more people to register as wanting their organs donated after their death is part of a campaign being launched later.

Around 470 people in Wales are waiting for an organ transplant now and 780,000 people are on the organ donor register. But leaders of the campaign say they want this new scheme to "get Wales talking" about organ donation.

Robert Edwards, aged 13 is backing the scheme after being on the waiting list for a transplant for two years.

The boy, from Dinas Pows in the Vale of Glamorgan, was told he needed a kidney transplant two years ago after a viral infection caused damage to his kidneys as a three-year-old.

He has been receiving dialysis for 10 hours a day for two years.

Meanwhile, Roy Thomas, executive chairman of Kidney Foundation Wales, is to launch Donate Wales - Tell a Loved One, outside Cardiff City Hall on Tuesday.

As a new organ donor sign-up drive is been launched would-be donors are urged 'tell a loved one'.

Balloons will be released at the launch representing 150 people in Wales who have died since 2003 waiting for a donor, and another 471 who are still waiting.

Mr Thomas said: "If we are to bridge the gap between the number of people waiting for organs and the number of organs available, we need to start talking to our loved ones about our wished to become organ donors when we die and make sure we all join the organ donor register."

In March, the assembly government announced a public consultation into possible changes to the way organs are donated and whether a system of presumed consent for donation should be introduced.

Charities taking part in the campaign include Kidney Wales Foundation, the British Heart Foundation, British Liver Trust, Diabetes UK Cymru and RNIB Cymru.

Allison John (L) with other Kidney Wales Foundation supporters
Allison John (L) says she would have died without a transplant

With a shortage of donors, campaigners say many people in need of transplants face the reality of having years to wait and may even die while on the waiting list.

During the last five years more than 750 lives have been transformed by a transplant, but more than 150 people - one every fortnight - have died before a donor could be found.

This latest campaign, which will run until September, is aimed at getting people to talk about what they want to happen to their organs when they die.

It also wants to tackle some of the misconceptions surrounding organ donation, such as there being no age limit to register or restrictions because of sexuality.

Kidney Wales Foundation ambassador, Allison John, who has undergone several life saving transplants, including her liver when just 17, said: "I would have been dead 13 years ago if it wasn't for those generous people who gave me the organs.

"It's given me the freedom to be able to go to university, to travel the world, to live a normal life really."

Health Minister Edwina Hart said: "Discussing what happens to us and our organs after we die are thing most people don't really want to think about but it is important for people to discuss the possibility with family members."

The initiative is backed by a number of celebrities including Colin Jackson, James Hook, Connie Fisher, Ruth Madoc, Radio 1's Aled Jones, Iolo Williams and Stuart Cable who will feature in a multi-media advertising campaigning over the summer.

Kidney patients rally for changes
12 Jan 08 |  South West Wales
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03 Feb 07 |  South East Wales

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