Keeping organ donation close to our hearts

Bradford College, Karen Piotr, Organ Donation Week

A section of the David Hockney Building glowed as the college shared the message about joining the organ donation register. The campaign, Leave Them Certain, is encouraging everyone to have conversations with their loved ones. The aim is to make sure they are aware of their wishes around organ donation. Special Projects Officer Karen Piotr, who is leading the initiative, said: “We think we know everything about our loved ones, but would we know this decision?”

Bradford College is also encouraging people to hang red hearts in their windows and have the heart-to-heart conversation.

Karen said: “More than 7,000 people across the country are waiting for a life-saving transplant. We are looking for students to take part in activities and tasks to talk to their families about their organ donation decisions.”

Funding secured to raise awareness among students

Earlier this year Bradford College received £10,000 in community investment funds from NHS Blood and Transplant. The college’s Project Team secured this funding to raise awareness among its students. The initiative began with a stand at the Freshers Fair in the David Hockney Building. Karen engaged with more than 100 students about what organ donation is, and which solid organs can be used. She also encouraged them to go home and have the conversation with their families.

When Karen’s husband Mark died in May 2017, she knew what his wishes were. This was because of their previous conversations about organ donation. Read their story: Karen and Mark’s story – NHS Organ Donation

That important discussion meant arrangements could quickly be made to donate Mark’s organs. In total, eight people received life-saving organ transplants after Mark’s death.

Since then Karen has been a passionate advocate for organ donation. She is the Chair of Bradford Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust’s Organ Donation Committee, Trustee for the Donor Family Network and NHSBT ambassador. Karen has also shared the message through a series of talks to Women Institute groups from all over the country. She appeared on Steph’s Packed Lunch on Channel 4 to talk about her work for the Donor Family Network.

Show of hearts

As well as placing hearts in their window, people can also get out walking in the shape of a heart. They can join their friends to show their support and use a fitness app to record this. Karen said: “The aim is to inspire millions of family conversations since families are always involved before organ donation goes ahead, so please get involved and share your images with us.”