Around 40 families from around Scotland will gather in Edinburgh this week to see their loved ones honoured for giving the gift of life to others, through donating their organs for transplant.
At the annual private ceremony, held this year on 7th September in Edinburgh’s Royal Botanic Gardens, each family will receive the St John Scotland Award for Organ Donation, inscribed with the words ‘add life, give hope’.
The ceremony is the sixth annual event, organised jointly by St John Scotland and NHS Blood and Transplant (NHSBT), and takes place during Organ Donation Week (3-9 September).
Those recognised at the ceremony will include:
Stuart Reid from Dunfermline who will receive the award on behalf of his wife, Susan
Siobhan Pirie from Lerwick, who will receive the award on behalf of her husband, John
Frances Ritchie from Dundee, who will receive the award on behalf of her husband, William
St John Scotland’s Chancellor, Dr Joe Morrow CBE, will present the awards to family members at the ceremony. He said: “As a charity dedicated to saving and enhancing life, we recognise how important organ donation is in giving people who are waiting for a transplant the chance of life.
“The St John Scotland Award for Organ Donation recognises the courage of inspirational families who gave permission for their loved ones' organs to be used to save the lives of others. We are incredibly proud to be working alongside NHS Blood and Transplant for the sixth year running, to help honour these families in this way.”
Anthony Clarkson, Interim Director of Organ Donation and Transplantation for NHS Blood and Transplant said: “The pride families feel at these ceremonies is inspirational. Transplant patients tell us that organ donors and their families are heroes. This award is a chance for us all to recognise their bravery and generosity, and their amazing contribution to society.
“We hope these awards will inspire other people in Scotland to tell their families that, should they die in circumstances where they could become a donor, then their wish to be a lifesaver would be carried out. Families tell us donation is a source of pride that helps them in their grieving process and we don’t want anyone to miss the opportunity to donate. Please join the NHS Organ Donor Register at www.organdonation.nhs.uk.”
Families at the ceremony will hear from Gordon Hutchinson, a transplant recipient, and be invited to visit Scotland’s National Memorial for Organ and Tissue Donors, commissioned by the Scottish Government and created within the Royal Botanic Gardens by artist Alec Finlay.
Those attending the ceremony are only a proportion of those who, during the past year, agreed to allow their loved one’s organs to be used to save or transform the lives of others. Some chose to receive the award privately, by post, and others declined to attend.
Scotland has the highest organ donor sign-up rate in the UK, with 50% of the population having signed the NHS Organ Donor Register, but it is still not enough. Around 560 people from Scotland with life-threatening illnesses are currently on the Transplant Waiting List.
The Scottish Government announced recently that it is considering legislation that will create a ‘soft opt out’ system for organ donation. But until this becomes law, those wishing to donate their organs should continue to opt in by signing the register.
To join the NHS Organ Donor Register, visit www.organdonation.nhs.uk or call 0300 123 2323. It’s also incredible important to tell family of your decision. A few words now can make an extraordinary difference.