Hundreds of dolls made to represent children waiting for transplant as part of a new campaign

21 November 2023

Waiting to live campaign image with message "more than 230 children are waiting to live"Like most children, Ralph, Amelia, Dáithí, Uqbah and Sienna cannot wait for Christmas. But there is something they want even more than a visit from Santa: a life-saving organ transplant. They and more than 230 other children in the UK urgently need this precious and ultimate gift of life if they are to see more Christmases.

Now, in a bid to raise vital awareness of the need for more child organ donors, a powerful campaign has been launched that will see the children transformed into handmade dolls that will be placed across the country.

Each doll will wear a badge inviting people passing by to scan a QR code and hear stories of children waiting for transplants from across the UK.

It is hoped that the dolls and the real-life children’s stories will inspire more parents and families to consider organ donation and add themselves and their children onto the NHS Organ Donor Register.

How the campaign aims to help

Currently, there is a significant lack of child organ donors resulting in children and their families waiting for a life-saving donation that tragically sometimes doesn’t come.

In 2021/22, just 52% of families who were approached about organ donation gave consent for their child’s organs to be donated. This represented just 40 organ donors under the age of 18. However, in cases where a child was already registered on the NHS Organ Donor Register, no family refused donation.

To address this imbalance, the new campaign, Waiting to Live, aims to encourage parents and families to consider organ donation and, it is hoped, register themselves and their children as donors.

Angie Scales, Lead Nurse for Paediatric Organ Donation at NHS Blood and Transplant, said:

"For many children on the transplant waiting list, their only hope is the parent of another child saying 'yes' to organ donation at a time of immense sadness and personal grief. Yet, families tell us that agreeing to organ donation can also be a source of great comfort and pride.

"When organ donation becomes a possibility, it is often in very sudden or unexpected circumstances. When families have already had the opportunity to consider organ donation previously or know already it is something they support, it makes a difficult situation that bit easier.

"By encouraging more young people and their families to confirm their support for organ donation on the NHS Organ Donor Register, we hope to be able to save more lives of children, both today and in the future."

Ralph next to chairWaiting to Live builds on the Consider This campaign which earlier this year used radio and newspaper adverts to make a powerful appeal on behalf of the parents of 3-year-old Ralph who needs a multi-organ transplant.

Other children who feature campaign include 7-year-old Dáithí who has been waiting for a heart transplant for 2000 days, Sophie (aged 10) who is waiting for lungs, as well as Uqbah (14) and Pablo (13) who both need kidneys and could also be saved by the generosity of a living adult donor.

The campaign has the backing of hospitals across the UK, including Great Ormond Street Hospital, which will be home to four of the dolls, including Ralph.

The campaign has been spearheaded by WPP agencies Wunderman Thompson, with the help of the global communications agency BCW.