Published on: 19th December 2023

In a bid to raise vital awareness of the need for more child organ donors, a powerful campaign has been launched that has transformed hundreds of children waiting for transplants into handmade dolls that will be placed across the country in clinics and hospitals, including here at RNOH.

doll.pngLike most children, Ralph, Amelia, Dáithí, Uqbah and Sienna cannot wait for Christmas. But there is something they want even more than a visit from Santa: a life-saving organ transplant. They and more than 230 other children in the UK urgently need this precious and ultimate gift of life if they are to see more Christmases.

Each child's doll will be placed in a waiting area of a clinic or hospital and will wear a badge inviting people passing by to scan a QR code and hear stories of children waiting for transplants from across the UK. RNOH's doll is in Outpatients and represents a three year old girl waiting for a heart.

It is hoped that the dolls and the real-life children’s stories will inspire more parents and families to consider organ donation and add themselves and their children onto the NHS Organ Donor Register.

How the campaign aims to help

Currently, there is a significant lack of child organ donors resulting in children and their families waiting for a life-saving donation that tragically sometimes doesn’t come.

In 2021/22, just 52% of families who were approached about organ donation gave consent for their child’s organs to be donated. This represented just 40 organ donors under the age of 18. However, in cases where a child was already registered on the NHS Organ Donor Register, no family refused donation.

To address this imbalance, the new campaign, Waiting to Live, aims to encourage parents and families to consider organ donation and, it is hoped, register themselves and their children as donors.

Angie Scales, Lead Nurse for Paediatric Organ Donation at NHS Blood and Transplant, said:

"For many children on the transplant waiting list, their only hope is the parent of another child saying 'yes' to organ donation at a time of immense sadness and personal grief. Yet, families tell us that agreeing to organ donation can also be a source of great comfort and pride.

"When organ donation becomes a possibility, it is often in very sudden or unexpected circumstances. When families have already had the opportunity to consider organ donation previously or know already it is something they support, it makes a difficult situation that bit easier.

"By encouraging more young people and their families to confirm their support for organ donation on the NHS Organ Donor Register, we hope to be able to save more lives of children, both today and in the future."