Sheffield smashed donor target to help save lives

Betty Rayner, Graham Moore and Alison Bridge from event organisers LMS getting ready for the Transplant Games
Betty Rayner, Graham Moore and Alison Bridge from event organisers LMS getting ready for the Transplant Games
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More than 22,000 people have signed up in just months to become lifesaving organ donors - smashing the original target of The Star’s Gift of Life campaign.

The total is almost double the 12,000 it was initially hoped could be recruited.

Almost 11,000 people from the Sheffield postcode area alone have signed up as organ donors since The Star’s campaign launched in January.

Across the entire circulation area of The Star, the phenomenal figure stands at 22,243.

The ‘tremendous’ achievement, which means the lives of people waiting desperately for transplants will be saved or transformed, has been revealed as the British Transplant Games begin in Sheffield this week.

Christine Thornton, a mum from Aston who needs new lungs because of a genetic disorder, and has been on the transplant list for over a year, said: “I didn’t think the campaign would recruit so many donors - it is really fantastic.

“It means there are even more chances for people like me, who do need an organ, to get their second chance at life.”

Inspirational transplant athletes are set to descend on Sheffield for the games from Thursday, when the event will be launched with a parade in the city centre.

Among the participants will be grandma-of-five Bridie Greenway, whose 10 relatives have had the same kidney transplant she did because of a genetic condition.

Bridie, who lives in Chesterfield and will compete in archery and bowling in the games, said: “The last time the games came to Sheffield I think we got over 20,000 people signed up but it just doesn’t seem to happen anywhere else.

“They do so many transplants now but there are still so many people waiting.

“I’m just so thankful that people are signing up.

“It is absolutely incredible.”

The transplant games run over four days and are expected to boost the Sheffield economy by £1.5 million.

Event director John Timms said: “I am really pleased with the way the people of Sheffield and South Yorkshire have taken the campaign to heart.

“It means people’s lives could be saved in future, and it’s also key that more people know about the benefits of transplantation.”

Graham Moore, chairman of the games’ sponsor Westfield Health, added: “To get that many donors signed up to the register in just a few months is tremendous, and it shows people have taken the subject seriously.

“Three people die every day waiting for a transplant, which is absolutely shocking.

“The more organ donors there are, the more transplants take place, and the more lives are saved.”

To sign up to the NHS Organ Donor Register visit www.organdonation.nhs.uk, call 0300 123 23 23 or text SAVE to 84118.