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Sunday, March 09, 2008

Yet another way to easily save someone's life today

A couple of days ago I blogged about signing up to become an organ donor, something I did last week. My conscience had been pricked by the results of research I'd carried out in preparation for a presentation in our Japanese language class.

We'd been given three topics to choose from: organ donation, blood donation, bone marrow donation.

The third option hadn't fired my imagination, as it seemed somehow limited in scope (in fact, it was my ignorance of the life-saving potential of bone marrow transplants that led to my unfortunate disinterest). The presentation done, I was ready to forget about it.

Until fifteen minutes ago when I got an email from another student society at university:

Sheffield Marrow will be holding their annual Bone Marrow Awareness Week from
Monday 10th March – Saturday 15th March

Sheffield Marrow is a student run society at the University of Sheffield which is part of the national student-run outreach project of the Anthony Nolan Trust. We are a charitable organization and our three main objectives are to:
1. appoint people to the bone marrow register
2. fund-raise for the Anthony Nolan Trust
3. increase awareness of bone marrow transplants and the need for more donors

Intrigued, I paid a visit to the Anthony Nolan Trust web site. It was there, reading the accounts of those whose lives had been saved by donors, that I realised that I should absolutely be on this register.

Sure, by being an organ donor I can save lives ...but that may not be for a while. I can (and will on Tuesday) give blood, and that's groovy, but wow - here is yet another chance to give someone the most amazing gift they will ever receive - life. And what do I need to get on this register? A simple blood test. Easy as that.

Having read through their guidelines I find that unfortunately, I can't add my name to their world-wide database until 2011, when I will have gone three years without an epileptic seizure. It's not that epilepsy can be passed on through a bone marrow transplant, it's the risk that I would have a seizure when coming round from the anaesthetic. So I've added it to my Google Calendar for 2011.

The thing that gets me about these three actions that I can take today to potentially save lives (register, give blood, register), is that I haven't considered doing them before now. If those people who I could potentially save were right in front of me, about to be hit by a bus, I'm sure I would do my best to save them. But because they are somewhere else in space and time, I've never appreciated that by taking action today (signing a few forms and enduring a little discomfort) I could actually do exactly the same thing - and without even endangering my own life! To not do so out of laziness or disinterest feels, for me personally, pretty wrong. If I'd seen a child playing in the road and heard a bus approaching from around the corner and done nothing about it, I don't think I would ever be able to justify having let them get run over because "I didn't quite get around to picking them up".

Ok, so that may be a bit of an extreme example, but at the end of the day, regardless of time and space, it's about life and death. If there's an easy way in which I can save someone's life then I feel that it is my responsibility to do so.

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Friday, March 07, 2008

Saving lives ...and broadcasting to the world

Jade Stoner, 1999 - 2006

Woah, what a day! Quite a bumpy ride.

This afternoon, I had a presentation in Japanese on organ donation. That went well. We told the story of Jade, a 7-year-old-girl who was tragically killed in 2006 when hit by a car whilst riding her bicycle. However, Jade did not die in vain - her parents agreed for Jade to be an organ donor - with the result that Jade saved 4 people's lives: those of an including an 11-month-old baby, a 17-month-old baby, a 27-year-old man and a 42-year-old man.

What an amazing thing that little girl did.

Organ donation is still in its infancy in Japan - did you know that in the ten years between 1997 and 2007 Japan only 62 people in Japan donated organs following death? In the UK the figure for last year alone was 1500. It's not that Japanese people don't agree with it - when interviewed for a large-scale survey, over 70% of respondents said they were for with organ donation.

It seems to be more a case of not appreciating that they could actually give the most precious gift of all - the gift of life - simply by carrying a donor card with them and informing their families of the consequences.

It would be wrong to single out the Japanese here. Until last week, I, just like almost 3/4 of the UK population, wasn't registered as a willing organ donor.

Then I clicked on this link, and 30 seconds later I was on the register.

Another topic that we could have chosen to present on was Giving Blood. This year sees the first time ever that I've been able to give blood (my anti-epilepsy drugs having been replaced with organic multivitamins), but once again, until we started looking into the subjectfor these classes, I'd not thought about it.

That's all set to change: next Tuesday (11th March) the National Blood Service is coming to our university. Perfect timing. This afternoon I gave them a call on 08457 711 711, and registered. I'll be giving blood at 2.35pm, after our literature class.

I'm terribly squeamish, and can't bear the sight of blood, but if I can help someone, even perhaps play a samll part in saving someone's life, well, isn't that something worth taking time for? yes Joseph, it is. I'll just look the other way.

WWW means World Wide Web

Something quite bizarre happened this morning. I won't go into details as I've inadvertently caused enough grief as it is, just to say that a recent post on the Mumble (which I have since decided to remove so as to help relieve the stress burden of the individuals concerned) caused quite a reaction within management circles of a Europe-based organisation. They had picked up on it through what I guess would be a Google Alert (you receive an email whenever your pre-defined search terms appear online).

What I found interesting was how my post (which admittedly, was poorly thought out and inaccurate, being the result of a combination of my strong feelings on the topic under discussion, and tiredness), could, to someone looking from a very different viewpoint, mean something so far removed from what had been my intention.

Of course, had someone told me that members of this Dutch organisation's management team would be checking the Mumble I would have laughed - surely they have better things to do with their time than pay attention to the likes of me?! However, today has taught me that actually, I almost have to think as if my blogs are being sent as emails to everyone whom I refer to in them.

Does this then limit my freedom of speech? I don't think so. If I were the kind of blogger who frequently criticized others then yes, of course I'd have to reconsider my style - or face being the recipient of envelopes containing poisoned bananas, labelled "eat me I taste good". But as it is, I won't blog anything that I wouldn't say to someone's face, it's just not right (in the recent post I refer to I was actually defending the individual who became upset upon reading it, my being unaware of their particular political circumstances. Since the storm, I've checked out that individual's profile on the corporate web site. They come across as being tall, and funny).


It's been a learning experience.

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