Organ Donation Week on ice…

Belfast Giants 1.10.22 (2)

Last night’s blog was posted a little earlier than usual.  Not because of Strictly Come Dancing (we could watch that on “catch-up”) but because we donned warm hoodies (organ donation-branded, of course) and went off to watch a game of professional ice hockey.

Not our usual habitat, and we spent some time preparing – how does it work, what’s the rules, how long does it last, how many players, how can you keep track of something so fast..?

Tickets had been organised for representatives of Northern Ireland’s organ donation groups by the Belfast Giants and Donate4Dáithí , the campaign run by the family of 5-year old Dáithí Mac Gabhann.  Dáithí, after four years waiting for a heart transplant, is already a campaigner. He commandeered the moment on the big screens in the intermission’s live interview with his Dad and made his point loud and clear  – “Organ donation saves lives!” The information stand in the central place on the Bridge was busy with people coming to learn more about transplants, meet Dáithí and Máirtín, and leave inspired to sign the register and talk with others.Belfast Giants - who is the Giant 1.10.22

Oh, yes, there was also a great game of ice hockey that we did, more or less, manage to follow, and after all the razzmatazz, the home supporters left the scene happy with  a 5-0 win.

A huge (alright then, a Giant) campaign boost for Organ Donation Week in this part of the world.  Big team, (some of them very big), big advertising, loud noise, strong message – all that energy and effort channelled into the tiny little bottleneck of a short conversation between a few family members.

But if that works, it can burst out of the bottle on the other side and may spark a new chance of life for one, two, up to nine people.  Nine new lives.  All their worlds open again, for them, their family, friends.  All they can enjoy, say, do, achieve.  All they can sing, dance, spin, laugh, create.  All they can give, share, inspire.  All they can love, and be loved.  All that, and much, much more.  All from opening a conversation about organ donation.

It’s worth everything Organ Donation Week can give to it.  Can you give it a few more minutes, too?  If you’ve already sorted it all with your family, and know what you might each do if it ever came your way, thank you for that.  Really, thank you.  But don’t stop now.    Start a conversation with someone else.  Spread it.  Pass it on.  Live Loudly.  Donate Proudly…site-logo

Organ Donation Week – Film night…

Luke AlexanderOrgan Donation Week, and it’s Saturday night so, unless you’ve got something more pressing to do, sort the popcorn, sit back, kick off your shoes and watch a couple of films.  Short ones.  Very short.  One is funny, clever.  The other, only a few minutes longer, is gentle, courageous, beautiful.  Both are brief glimpses into much deeper stories.  Behind the words, the glances, a depth of experience and emotion that is dizzying.

Luke Alexander is, we are very proud to say, a friend of ours.  Lucia found him first.  When Luke was 12 years old his life was saved by a 13-year old stranger who had told his parents he wanted to be a donor if anything ever happened to him.

Ten years on, Luke is a cyclist, a runner and a swimmer, enjoying the chance to compete in the Transplant Games.  Luke and Lucia were both members of the GB and NI team at the World Games in Malaga, Spain (2017) and two years later in Newcastle, England.  Luke recently completed his Coventry University degree in Media Production.  He used his film-making skills to create unique insights into the experiences of organ transplantation.

In 2017, at “Talk, Tell, Transform”, a Children’s Liver Disease Foundation week for young people with liver disease or transplants, young people turned their stories into short films.  Luke took it a stage further and interviewed himself, playing…well, best just to watch it, it’s less than five minutes short.  The link is at the end of this blog.  There’s another one first…

As Luke went through the intensity of his own experience of liver disease, and then transplant, he was sensitive to its impact on others, especially the young boy and his family whose kindness saved Luke’s life.

“I always think about him, whoever he may be. It’s consciously on my mind when I make decisions,” said Luke, adding that the boy’s parents had suffered an incredible loss.  “It’s something that I never forget, day in, day out.”

As well as the boy’s parents, Luke is aware, too, of the impact of his journey on his own family.  Further inspired by people he has met at the Transplant Games, Luke’s new fifteen-minute documentary, “The Other Side”,  aims to be a cathartic experience for parents who have been through, going through, or are about to go through that journey.  It is also a bravely understated insight for the rest of us.

No more to say, this is not a review.  Just watch the film (permission to skip the ads).  Better still, watch it with your family, with friends, and see where the conversation goes afterwards.  You never know when a conversation started through this film may save a life… Thank you, Luke, three generous families, and all those donor families we may never know….

The Other Side

Luke’s story – CLDF Talk, Tell, Transform 2017

309439778_509082343953026_3818703030712284820_n                                                                                 Learn it, and pass it on…