Follow Santa and join the register

WAITING for the phone to ring can be excruciating.

When all you can think about is that all-important call, the rest

of your life is put on hold.

Right now over 600 people in Scotland are waiting for "the call".

But they're not awaiting the outcome of a job interview, the

latest gossip, or even a call from a sweetheart.

They are waiting to see if they are going to receive a life-saving

organ transplant.

This is the reason why The Falkirk Herald has decided not to wait any longer to do all it can to support the campaign to boost the number of residents on the Organ Donation Register.

As well as supporting the national drive to get more people to save a life, the Herald has enlisted the help of The Mall Howgate shopping centre.

In the New Year, publicity stalls will be set up in the Falkirk

centre to give people expert advice on becoming an organ donor.

Teams from the Organ Donation Register will also be in The Mall, giving people the ability to sign up while they shop.

And, to help launch this new development in our campaign, Santa dropped into The Howgate to remind everyone about a special Christmas present they can give to their fellow man this year.

Margaret Foy, centre manager at The Mall Howgate, said: "We are delighted to be supporting The Falkirk Herald with this organ donor campaign.

"I think it's a great way for people to get information and find out why it's such an important thing to do.

"We regularly have charities coming into the Howgate with information and advice.

"It gives people a way to connect with charitable organisations

within their community throughout the year.

"We find that our customers can enjoy finding out about charities in a relaxed manner in the environment of the shopping centre.

"They don't need to go to a clinic or arrange to see the doctor for information, and, in the case of organ donation, they can sign up to the register that same day."

The Herald's move has been welcomed by officials at the Scottish Government who have just launched a 500,000 media campaign to promote the importance of organ donation.

Through TV, radio adverts and the internet, they hope to spread the word that organ donation is the easiest way to save a life.

John Forsythe, Scotland's lead clinician for organ donation and

transplantation, said: "Due to the generosity of the Scottish people, organ donor numbers are increasing and allowing more life-saving transplants.

"But there is much still to do as people wait on lists for their chance to get a transplant."

Of around 670 Scotswaiting for a transplant, the vast majority, over 570, are waiting for a new kidney.

The largest proportion of people waiting on a transplant in Scotland are aged between 51 to 60, followed by 41 to 50-year-olds, and then 61 to 70-year-olds.

So far this year (as of September 2010), the most common organ transplant for Scottish residents is a kidney transplant (72),

followed by liver (35), heart (5), lung(s) (4) and kidney and

pancreas (1).

The good news is that, in 2009-10, 312 transplants were carried out, and there were, at last count, 1,835,315 people who live in Scotland on the register.

Despite this, the sad fact remains that three people in the UK will die every day waiting for an organ transplant.

And, recent research by NHS Blood and Transplant found 96 per cent of people would accept an organ, only 36 per cent of Scots have actually joined the register.

Health Secretary Nicola Sturgeon, who launched the national campaign

recently, said: "Nobody likes to think about dying or losing a loved one but organ donation can make something positive come out of a tragedy.

"In Scotland there are more than 600 people waiting for the organ that will give them the second chance at life. "Every one of them is somebody's son, daughter, friend, workmate or neighbour. Sadly, for some of those waiting an organ will not be found in time and the loss of

that person will have an impact on many people.

"That's why we need to drive up the number of people on the organ

donor register. Joining the NHS Organ Donor Register can be the

easiest thing you do to help save someone's life."