Donor Day praised by PM as Holly’s two-minute heroes campaign signs up thousands
An inspirational young campaigner was celebrating today after her efforts were praised by the Prime Minister, Gordon Brown. Holly Shaw, a 21-year-old kidney transplant patient created a national awareness day, Donor Day, on Tuesday 7 April, as part of her ongoing campaign The Gift of Life, which aims to raise awareness of the shortage of organ donors in the UK.
In a statement on the No 10 website, the Prime Minister said:
“I want to give my support and thanks to Holly Shaw and all those involved in her campaign. Joining the organ donation register is a selfless act of kindness which can save many lives and offer new hope for potentially thousands of families across the country.”
Despite the vast majority of Brits supporting organ donation, just 23% have signed the register. Holly’s campaign aims to make it easier to sign up and spread the word. Donor Day was built around asking people to go online and sign the Organ Donor Register and then promote the fact they had done so via their social networking status. In addition, Holly coordinated an army of volunteers to man Donor Desks up and down the country - to talk to people about organ donation and encourage them to sign a registration form.
The registration forms are now being collated, website hits and text sign ups counted – but all early indications point to a terrific spike of activity, with in people joining the Register in their thousands.
On Tuesday afternoon, the campaign had become the second most re-tweeted tweet on Twitter. By 5pm, there had been over 3,200 online registrations via www.organdonation.nhs.uk – more than 15 times the average daily registration rate. There was also an increase in calls to the Organ Donor Line.
Holly said: “My aim was for Donor Day to succeed in saving lives by encouraging more people to sign the Organ Donor Register. I’m ecstatic, and a little overwhelmed, to learn that the campaign generated such a brilliant response. The day was a fantastic experience, and to receive a personal message from No 10 was the icing on the cake!”
Holly is one of the campaigners in Channel 4’s Battlefront initiative; a multi-platform project aimed at 14 to 21-year-olds which encourages young people to get actively involved in campaigning about a cause in which they believe. Her campaign mentor is serial entrepreneur, Oli Barrett.
Oli said: “I’m incredibly proud of what Holly has achieved. A 15 fold increase on the average daily sign up rate is amazing. I hope that the impact of the campaign will be felt far beyond a single day; I think we can expect more sign ups to come in throughout the Easter period thanks to the online buzz created around the issue.”
As the campaign began to build earlier this month, ahead of Donor Day itself, NHS Blood and Transplant reported an increased pattern of activity. Since 1 April, the daily registrations have increased three-fold – from an average of 205 per day to an average of 674 per day.
Gordon Brown’s support on Donor Day followed other high profile endorsements of Holly’s campaign. Earlier in the week, she received positive messages of support from X-Factor winner Alexandra Burke, singer Connie Fisher and actress Nina Wadia, while the promotional photocall was attended by actress Fay Ripley and lead singer of Soul II Soul, Melissa Bell who last year announced that she is waiting for a kidney donor and is on dialysis three times each week.
· There are more than 8,000 people currently waiting for a transplant that could save or transform their lives
· Each year, around 1,000 people die due to the lack of donor organs available
· 90% of people in the UK say that they would allow their organs to be used. But only 23% have joined the Organ Donor Register
· You are statistically more likely to need a transplant than become a donor
· It takes just two minutes to sign the Register. Visit www.thegiftoflife.org.uk or www.organdonation.nhs.uk / text GIFT to 64118 or telephone 0845 60 60 400