New campaign for child organ donation

Wunderman Thompson UK and NHS Blood and Transplant have launched a new campaign to increase awareness of child organ donation and help those in need of life-saving transplants.

6 September 2023

Global creative agency Wunderman Thompson UK reached out to NHS Blood and Transplant after hearing that one of their colleagues, Katie, has a three-year-old son, Ralph, who is currently battling a rare liver cancer and now in need of an urgent multi-organ transplant.

The agency and family hope that the 'Consider this' campaign will help raise awareness and get all members of the family thinking about organ donation and registering their decision on the NHS Organ Donor Register.

Ralph's story

A photo of Ralph on the sofa, playing with a toy fire engineAfter being diagnosed with a rare liver cancer in January and undergoing eight cycles of chemotherapy, Ralph’s best chance for survival is a multi-organ transplant.

He is currently on the waiting list for this life-saving gift but his family fear that a suitable donor may not be found in time to save him.

While recent medical advances offer hope to families whose children need complex medical conditions, there is still a need for more families to consider and support organ donation. For some children, like Ralph, a young donor is their only hope.

There is no age limit for becoming an organ donor

We urge all families to consider organ donation, and for all members of the family to register their decision on the NHS Organ Donor Register to help save more lives.

Parents and guardians can register their children at any time from birth. Children can also choose to register themselves.

Register to donate now

While his friends get ready to start nursery school, my three-year-old son Ralph is waiting.

Ralph's mum

Katie kneeling down to hug her son Ralph, outside on a sunny dayIn one of the campaign's radio adverts, mum Katie describes the heart-breaking feeling of seeing her son's friends getting on with their young lives:

"Other mums will be packing their rucksacks and ironing their outfits... His friends will be having their breakfast and fastening their shiny new shoes... They’ll be off out the door, excited for their first day of nursery school. But my son Ralph is still waiting for a multi organ transplant."

Why is there a shortage of child organ donors?

  • Only a very small number of children and adults die in circumstances where organ donation is possible
  • Many families that say no to organ donation, leaving only around 40-50 child donors per year across the UK (and not all organs will always be suitable for transplant)
  • Children on the organ transplant waiting list rely on families saying yes to organ donation in order to make these life-saving transplants possible

Family support for child organ donation 

  • In the UK, families will always be asked to give their consent in order for organ donation from a child to go ahead
  • However, in 2021/22, only 52% of families gave consent for their child’s organs to be donated
  • This resulted in a total of just 40 organ donors under the age of 18, compared to the 243 children who are currently waiting for a transplant
  • In cases where a child was already registered on the NHS Organ Donor Register, no family went against this already considered decision to support donation

Statement from Angie Scales, NHS Blood and Transplant Lead nurse for Paediatric Donation

“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."

“We ask that families take a moment today to consider and confirm their support for organ donation, so it is not something you have to consider and discuss for the first time should the unthinkable happen. We also know that many children respond positively to the idea of organ donation, so this is something which can be discussed in a simple way by the whole family.

“With more people confirming their support for organ donation on the NHS Organ Donor Register, we hope to be able to save more lives of children like Ralph, both today and in the future.”

Statement from Chermine Assadian, Creative Director at Wunderman Thompson UK

“Within the industry we often always say advertising doesn’t save lives. Well, in this case, we hope and pray it will. This is the most difficult and overwhelming brief I’ve ever worked on, but when we heard about the situation we didn’t hesitate. There's an urgent need to create a national debate, getting more parents to have the difficult conversation and ultimately register their children as organ donors. All our energy and our thoughts are behind Katie, Graham and Ralph."