A family is supporting National Transplant Week in a bid to cut the number of people who die from a lack of organ donors.
Seven people in Rutland currently need a life-saving organ transplant and eight others have died during the last four years while they were waiting.
The Wainwright family know exactly how important the service is after their son Sam had a liver transplant at the age of two.
Seven years later he is a lively, healthy boy whose family is appealing for people to join the organ donor register to give others the same gift of life.
Sam’s mum Toni, of Main Street, Cottesmore, said: “Being an organ donor wasn’t something we had even considered before Sam was born as you don’t ever think these things will happen to you.
“We very quickly understood what an enormous gift the family who made that decision had given to us and immediately signed up ourselves.”
Sam was diagnosed with the life-threatening disease biliary atresia at six weeks old and had surgery a week later to build a new bile duct. He then had a transplant two years later.
His dad Stuart said: “Sam’s donor gave him the gift of life and that has allowed our family life to be so special.
“He is now an active, musical, sporty nine-year-old who impresses us all with his love for life.”
This week is National Transplant Week and a national campaign is under way to encourage more people to join the organ donor register and to make sure their loved ones are aware of their wishes.
Figures from the NHS Blood and Transplant Service have revealed that while 95 per cent of families agree to organ donation if a loved one has discussed their wishes, only 46 per cent of families agree when they weren’t aware of their relative’s views.
Sally Johnson, the director of organ donation and transplantation for NHS Blood and Transplant, said the family refusal rate for the UK was one of the highest in Europe.
She said: “We need a transformation in donor and family consent to organ donation. In the past five years eight people living in Rutland have benefitted from a life-saving transplant but to help more people we need everyone, including the 14,215 people on the register in Rutland, to talk to their loved ones about their donation wishes.”
Videos about organ donation are available to view at www.youtube.com/transplantweek as part of the campaign, which runs until Sunday.
Mrs Wainwright, a teacher at Oakham CE Primary School, said: “It’s very straightforward to sign up and we fully support the programme. We will always be grateful someone chose to make the decision at such a difficult time.”
To join the NHS organ donor register call 0300 123 2323, visit www.transplantweek.co.uk or text DONATE to 62323.