As we all know, Universities across the country are home to a variety of groups where like-minded students join together to enjoy one particular common interest, whether it be canoeing, or cocktails, or gymnastics, or hummus. Yes, hummus. Of course I refer to the ‘society’ and there is one society at Newcastle university that is travelling around, visiting schools and spreading the word about organ donation. The ‘We Are Donors’ Society.
I spoke to Jess Leighton, a 24 year-old medical student at Newcastle University and Events Officer of the W.A.D. society, who has been with them since the beginning. She told me how it was in 2016 that the society was founded by a group of students who felt passionately about the cause. She said: “they wanted to promote conversation about organ donation and encourage people to take ownership of their donation status by going into schools and talking about the organ donor register.”
The group attend school assemblies across the Newcastle area, educating children and young people about how organ donation works and the ways in which it can save and improve lives through transplantation with the aim of sparking conversation among them. Jess explains that “It’s great if young people feel empowered to sign up as a donor after our talks but even just getting people talking about their opinions or experiences with organ donation is a huge success.”
With a shortage of organs available for transplantation, it is vital that people are encouraged to talk about their wishes. The NHS revealed last year that taboo surrounding transplants and donation and people’s reluctance to discuss the issue contribute greatly to the organ shortage crisis.
There are currently around 6000 people waiting for an organ transplant- around 457 people died waiting last year– and there are simply not enough organs to go around. I was one of the lucky ones. Many families choose not to donate on their loved one’s behalf because they never talked about their wishes. This is why the W.A.D society’s work is so important and could be making a real difference.
Jess told me: “I’m personally a big believer in organ donation and think it’s an amazing medical achievement that [transplants] can even happen. I was keen to get involved and encourage young people to think about these issues for themselves”.
The We Are Donors society has gone from strength to strength and is now a registered charity. The group is spreading and now working in other universities across the country. I think the work that they are doing is simply incredible and it makes me so proud to know others are passionate about an issue so close to my heart. What an incredible group of young people!
If you’re a Newcastle Uni student and are interested in joining W.A.D., visit the website for more information!
Thank you to W.A.D and especially Jess for talking to me about the society. In case you were wondering, of course I am now a member!
Remember to talk about your wishes with your friends and family – be the one to spark the conversation that one day may save a life.
Until next time,