LATEST figures show that 73,590 people in Carmarthenshire have registered to opt-in on the organ donation register, less than half of the county’s population.
Ahead of the Westfield Health British Transplant Games, which are coming to Newport on 25 – 28 July, the Welsh Government is touring the country visiting St Catherine’s Walk in Carmarthen on Tuesday, 16, July encouraging people to register their decision there and then.
The Games, which are being hosted by Newport for the first time, are a celebration of organ donation highlighting the health, fitness and wellbeing of recipients who wouldn’t have been able to compete without the kindness of donors and their families, who have given the gift of life.
This year sees the highest number of Welsh athletes competing in the games, with Team Wales boasting 48 athletes, compared to the 10 Welsh participants who competed last year at the event, which was held in Birmingham.
Specialist nurses in organ donation, surgeons, specialists and charity volunteers will be taking a giant ‘Operation Donation’ game to towns and cities across Wales to educate people on the history and benefits of organ donation in Wales and exactly how to become a donor.
The tour will finish at Friar’s Walk, Newport on Friday 19 July where the team will officially open the Organ Donation Wales hub, which will be open to the public all week with educational games, exhibitions and stories of recipients and donors.
Within 18 months, Sophie Washington was admitted to hospital as an emergency 187 times. But a pioneering pancreas transplant saved her life.
Six years on, Sophie, now 23 and from Llandeilo, is gearing up for the 2019 Westfield Health British Transplant Games in Newport (25-28 July).
At the age of nine, she was diagnosed with diabetes, but it soon became obvious that it was not a typical case as her body was developing antibodies to insulin.
When she was 15, she was the only person in the UK living on an intravenous insulin infusion 24 hours a day, seven days a week at home – a situation she lived with for 18 months. Hospital stays also became the norm and nurses were required at home to support her family in caring for her overnight.
She joined the transplant waiting list in 2012 and 18 months later, the call came.
Sophie said: “I wouldn’t be alive today without my donor and their family giving their consent. It gave me the time in which new technology and new treatments have caught up to where I need them to be.
With remarkable determination, Sophie is now planning to represent Wales in archery, table tennis and swimming:
“It will be such an incredible experience to see so many people in one place in a celebration of life.”
The Newport event will see almost 1000 participants – some as young as three – taking part in 23 sports and events across the city. Each of them, including Sophie, have had lifesaving transplants.
The aim of the Games – organised on behalf of charity, Transplant Sport, is to raise awareness of the importance of organ donation. Wales was the first to introduce a soft opt-out system of the organ donor register. However, the decision on organ donation is still made by loved ones. That’s why organisers are keen to spread the word that you need to make your decisions – whatever they may be – known to your family.
Health Secretary Vaughan Gething said: “We have seen a huge increase in consent rates here in Wales, with the overall consent rate now at 77%, the highest in the UK.
“We’ve seen increases in both the number of organ donors and transplants so it is fitting that a Welsh city is hosting the British Transplant Games 2019.
“As well as celebrating the fantastic sporting achievements, by bringing the games to Newport it gives us another opportunity to talk about organ donation and we’re looking forward to sharing the message even further at the games itself and also with local shoppers in Friar’s Walk. I urge everyone to consider what their organ donation decision, confirm this on the organ donor register and ask their family to hour their decision.”
Simon Pullen, centre director at Friars Walk, said: “We couldn’t be prouder that Friars Walk is going to host Wales’ organ donation exhibition in the run up to the Westfield Health British Transplant Games later this month.
“Given Wales has got 48 participants competing – our highest number ever – this display will be truly inspiring for our local community and will be an opportunity for us to celebrate and embrace the Games, life-saving transplants and raise awareness for the importance of organ donation.
“The exhibition will be open all week, between Saturday 20 and Sunday 28 July, and I’d urge as many people as possible to come down to Friars Walk and visit it ahead of the Westfield Health British Transplant Games, which will be a huge sporting event for Newport.”
You can register a decision at any time at any age by calling 0300 123 23 23 or visiting https://beta.gov.wales/talk-about-organ-donation-campaign or by telling your family and friends.
The Operation Donation Tour of Wales
Tuesday 16th July – St Catherine’s Walk – Carmarthen – SA31 1GA
Wednesday 17th July – Quadrant Centre – Swansea – SA1 3QW
Thursday 18th July – Lido Ponty – Pontypridd – CF37 4PE
Friday 19th July – University Hospital of Wales, Cardiff – CF14 4XW
Saturday 20th July – Sunday 28th July -Friar’s Walk – Newport – NP20 1EA
event is supported by Westfield Health, Welsh Government, Newport City Council, Newport Live the local health boards across Wales, NHS Blood and Transplant, Kidney Care UK, Anthony Nolan Register, Donor Family Network and Believe Organ Donor Support. Further sponsors include Friars Walk, Icon Design, Rodney Parade and Celtic Manor.