Drawing inspiration from heartbreak: university comic encourages organ donation

comics, events, graphic medicine, news

The transformative impact of new organ donation legislation is highlighted in a University of Dundee comic.

Written by recipients of organ donation, the families of donors, as well as University and NHS staff, The Gift: Transforming Lives Through Organ and Tissue Donation, shares heartfelt stories of individual patients and their families affected by organ and tissue donation, and amendments to organ donation legislation in Scotland.

The 36-page publication features several stories discussing the organ donation process and what it means for donors, recipients, and their families. It has been adapted from an earlier edition of the comic to reflect changes in Scottish law introduced in March, whereby people are presumed to have given consent unless they opt out.

Mayra Crowe, a Senior Lecturer in Spanish with the University’s School of Humanities, is an organ donation ambassador following the sudden death of her son, Andrew, in 2010 and whose story is featured in The Gift.

“The changes to the law are hugely significant,” she said.

“The ‘opt-out’ legislation is a step forward to save the lives of those fortunate to be next on the long organ donor waiting list and I believe it’s very important to be informed in order to make any kind of decision.

“For me, it is rewarding to know that The Gift can help families have an open and honest conversation about the decision to donate or not. These conversations can clarify individual decisions about organ donation, potentially sparing much misunderstanding in very difficult circumstances.”

The new legislation, introduced in March, means that everybody in Scotland is presumed to have provided consent to donate their organs unless they elect not to. Previously, more than half of the country’s population were registered to donate their organs or tissue after their death, but there are hopes that figures will greatly increase to allow more lifesaving and life-changing transplants to take place.

This latest edition of The Gift is the second to focus on organ donation and is the latest in a series of comics produced at Dundee to raise awareness of medical issues. Ahead of Organ Donation Week, which takes place from Monday 20 to Sunday 26 September, NHS Tayside’s Clinical Lead for Organ Donation, Dr Pauline Austin, said, that innovative ways of raising the issue are of critical importance.

“Almost 600 people are waiting for an organ transplant in Scotland at the moment, but there are not enough organs to meet these needs,” she said.

“Sadly, someone dies every day whilst waiting for an organ.

“The organ and tissue donation law has changed to that of an opt-out system. It is now more important than ever to talk about your decision with your loved ones. This will help ensure that it is honoured.

“The Gift can help prompt these honest conversations and help us to raise awareness of organ and tissue donation. Lots of people think they would be unsuitable to donate organs and tissues because of medical history or lifestyle choices, but each potential donor is individually assessed, and we need people from all backgrounds to register.”

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