People look to the skies as Betty launches Nottingham hospital’s organ donation campaign
People in Nottingham have been posting on social media snaps of Betty, the hot-air balloon which launched a national campaign by Nottingham’s hospitals to raise awareness of organ donation.
The branded balloon – funded by the Organ Donation Committee – made its inaugural flight on Monday (27 March), taking off from Forest Recreation Ground and flying over the Queen’s Medical Centre.
“We want to start that conversation about organ donation,” said Skye Irvine-Berry, a specialist nurse in NUH’s Organ Donation Team.
“Some families like to release balloons when they lose a loved one, or look up at the sky/stars. The balloon is symbolic and we want our families to look up and remember the precious gift their loved one gave.”
Last week, 456,341 people living in Nottinghamshire were on the UK Organ Donor Register.*
“The balloon is really bright and people won’t be able to miss it floating past,” said Skye. “We hope people will talk to each other, make their decisions known or sign up on the organ donation register.”
Pilot Neil Humphries will be flying the balloon around 30 times in the next 12 months, with the Midlands Air Festival on 2 to 4 June at Alcester in Warwickshire, Bristol International Balloon Fiesta in August, and Chatsworth Country Fair in September already pencilled in.
Neil said: “I’m aware of the work done by the organ donation and transplant teams at what is a very difficult time for families who are facing the loss of a loved one. Donating an organ/s give new life to others that would otherwise be suffering. I am very happy to fly the flag (balloon) for the team.”
Dr Keith Girling is the Medical Director at Nottingham University Hospitals (NUH) NHS Trust. He said:
“As a Trust we are completely committed to organ donation and the amazing lifesaving work that is done by the generous decisions of individuals and families at incredibly difficult and challenging times.
“We absolutely hope that the highly visible nature of this balloon will prompt people to find out and talk about this more and we really look forward to hearing the stories that come from people seeing this balloon flying. We are very grateful to the organ donation committee for funding this tremendous project and making this possible.”
John Richardson is Assistant Director, Organ Donation at NHS Blood and Transplant. He said: “This is a remarkable initiative by NUH’s Organ Donation Committee. Almost 7,000 people in the UK are waiting for an organ transplant right now. Organ donors and their families - and the generous decision they make - give hope to those waiting for a life-saving transplant. It’s so important that each of us make a decision, register on the Organ Donor Register and share the decision with our loved ones.
“This balloon will go a long way to sharing the organ donation message and the life-saving difference it makes.”
Skye Irvine-Berry added: “If just one person signs the organ donation register and saves another person’s life, you just can’t put a price on that.”
*area defined by the ONS NHS Postcode Directory.
Notes for editors
- You could be a lifesaver, act now to save lives in the future
- Each organ donor can save as many as nine lives
- Organ donation will only go ahead with the support of your family
- Confirm your decision by joining the NHS Organ Donor Register, so your loved ones know what you want
- Visit www.organdonation.nhs.uk or search NHS organ donation online to register
Organ donation facts and figures
- Organ donation can only happen in a small number of cases - around 500,000 people die every year in the UK, but only around one per cent die in circumstances where they can donate their organs. This means every donor is precious.
- Around 7,000 people - including 200 children - are waiting for a life-saving transplant in the UK right now.
- Since the pandemic, while organ donation and transplantation services have shown good recovery, there has been an increase in the numbers waiting and in need of transplant.
Organ donation and the law
Even though the law in England, Scotland and Wales has changed, families will still always be consulted, and it is still as important as ever to register your organ donation decision on the NHS Organ Donor Register and tell your family what you want to happen.
- Families are much more likely to support organ donation if they already know it is what their relative wanted.
- For more information and to register your decision, visit: https://www.organdonation.nhs.uk/
There is a particular need for donors of Black and Asian heritage. Certain organs, such as kidneys (which more than 75% of people on the list are waiting for), are matched by blood group and tissue type. People from the same ethnic background are more likely to be a match.