I currently have the privilege of undertaking a community placement with the chaplaincy team at my local hospital as part of my ordination training. One session of that placement was sitting in on a meeting about organ and tissue donation.
Until then I didn’t know
- the families of all suitable patients who are in cardiac or brain death are approached and asked to consider if they would be willing to allow organ or tissue donation from their relative, or if their relative has already registered for donation are informed of that fact if they didn’t know already;
- people up to the age of 80 may be suitable for organ donation (e.g. heart, lungs, liver, kidneys etc.);
- people up to the age of 85 may be suitable for tissue donation (e.g. cornea, ligaments, bone, skin etc.).
Further research since the meeting suggests that all five major religions in the UK support organ donation despite stories I’ve heard to the contrary, and though I am aware that some sects within these religions would hold alternative views.
A few days after this meeting, I had my awareness raised of a new campaign launched 28th January 2013, to encourage Christians to register, donate or promote organ and tissue donation as part of their Christian giving. This is the first time NHS Blood and Transplant have worked with churches on such a national campaign. It actually seems quite obvious to me now I come to think about it that donating our flesh and blood be part of our Christian giving, since we believe in a Christ who died that we might live a closer relationship with God, the author of life (Acts 3). Perhaps we shouldn’t need our own website through which to do so, but surely any campaign that raises the profile of both the need and opportunity can be welcomed.
The campaign is called Flesh and Blood, and provides a whole variety of resources including an easy way to register for organ, tissue and blood donation; stories of those who have donated or received organs, tissue or blood; resources to help raise awareness (including a 90 second video that can be downloaded and played during notices at your church) and make churches available as a venue for blood donor clinics; and understanding for those who are unable to donate but who can become advocates to encourage other who can to do so.
So, have I ever donated blood? Nope, not to date. Until well after I was married I was under weight and therefore not allowed to give blood, and since then just haven’t really considered it – that needs changing! However, hearing the stories of both medical staff and transplant patients at first hand last week, and reading the information at Flesh and Blood has encouraged me to more proactive action, and I am now registered for organ and tissue donation should the worst happen.
If you’re not a Christian and still want to make an altruistic donation of your flesh and blood for the benefit of others, then it’s just as easy for you to register for organ, blood, bone marrow and platelet donation. We could all have used that website for sometime now, or you may have already!
For my teaching friends, there is also a link to NHS teaching resources for KS4 children on blood, body parts and donation: Give and Let Live (which says it all in my view!)
Brings a whole new meaning to the word FAB, doesn’t it?