Move to encourage more residents to make views on organ donation known

This story was published 22 September 2021

An event to promote the importance of organ donation takes place in Harrogate on Saturday and is being supported by North Yorkshire County Council chairman Cllr Stuart Martin.

Claire Corps at Valley Gardens

Dr Claire Corps needed a kidney transplant to save her life when she was aged just 12, in 1980, and the disease which caused that struck again, meaning she needed a liver transplant in the 1990s.

Now Claire, who lives in Ripon, is a senior research scientist involved in finding ways to better preserve organs during the transplant process and will be walking through Harrogate on Saturday to speak to people in the town centre to highlight the importance of supporting the donor system, along with other members of the Harrogate Network for Organ Donor Support.

That work is being supported by Cllr Martin and his wife April, who are both long-standing supporters of the donor system and signed up to the register.

The walk has been organised as part of Organ Donation Awareness Week.

Although the law changed recently to automatically enrol those who do not opt out of the donor system, relatives are still asked whether their loved ones had any reason not to take part.

As a result, some organs are lost simply because those relatives do not know the answer and the Network wants to highlight the importance of everyone making their wishes clear to their families.

The group last year planted a Donor Tree in Valley Gardens in remembrance of those whose deaths made donations possible and will be walking from there to Montpellier Hill and Parliament Street to talk to shoppers.

“Organ donors are our heroes, if it wasn’t for them, we’d be dead,” said Claire. “We are trying to get people to talk about it. People assume because the law has changed from opting in to opting out that relatives are no longer asked. They are. It is so much easier if relatives know people’s wishes.”

Cllr Martin said: “Organ donation is a life-saver and a life-changer for many people and it is important for people who support it to make their views clearly known to those around them.

“Claire’s transplants have allowed her to go on to do valuable medical research work and there can be no finer advocate to talk to people about why it is so important.”

Saturday’s event starts at 10.15am and Claire will be walking with her pet dog to chat to people along the route, through Parliament Street while others will be on Montpellier Hill.