Russell Howard donates his voice for "The Wait"

17 December 2015

Comedian Russell Howard lends his support to NHS Blood and Transplant’s Organ Donation Campaign, “The Wait”

NHS Blood and Transplant is encouraging businesses to donate their muzak

On average Brits get annoyed and frustrated after waiting for just 4 minutes and 40 seconds while on hold*

NHS Blood and Transplant has announced the involvement of Russell Howard in NHS Blood and Transplant’s new organ donation campaign, ‘The Wait’.

The comedian has recorded poignant messages to encourage more people to sign up to the NHS Organ Donor Register. The short messages can be played in place of the traditional hold muzak at big companies and HSBC has already committed to doing this for two weeks from 14th-28th December.

A recent survey* revealed that the average Brit becomes irritated after just 4 minutes and 40 seconds on hold, nearly a third of us (28%) get annoyed waiting between 3 to 4 minutes in a supermarket queue, 33% of us get frustrated waiting less than a minute for a webpage to upload and the majority of us (57%) get irritated if we are made to sit in traffic for up to 6 minutes.

So, this Christmas, when ordering gifts or food over the phone or online, waiting in line to buy your turkey or queuing in traffic driving home for the holidays, take a moment to consider that thousands of people are waiting for an organ transplant. Many of them will wait years and some will die before receiving their transplant.

Recent figures published by NHS Blood and Transplant revealed 30% of patients on the UK’s transplant waiting list** have been waiting for an organ for more than two years. 500 of those waiting have now done so for more than five years – the equivalent of over 1,800 days each.

Almost 49,000 people in the UK have endured the wait for an organ transplant in the last 10 years and over 6,000, including 270 children, have died before receiving the transplant they desperately needed.

To draw attention to the daily reality of the nearly 7,000*** people waiting for a transplant up and down the UK, Russell’s recording can replace generic hold music.  His message encourages people that their time waiting on hold is the #TimeToSign onto the NHS Organ Donor Register, an amazing and easy thing to do which can lead to you saving lives in future. 

Russell and NHS Blood and Transplant are urging businesses big and small to donate just 20 seconds of their customer hold muzak to help highlight the true extent of the organ donor shortage. 

Sport clubs such as Sheffield Wednesday are also getting involved, with a special message also recorded by Russell going out over the loudspeaker tannoy system during halftime at their games.

Comedian Russell Howard, comments: “No one likes being put on hold, but it is really just a short amount of time compared to the wait endured by thousands of people due to a lack of organ donors. It takes just two minutes to sign up to the NHS Organ Donor Register and one day you could save or improve up to nine lives.”

For more information on how to get involved, please contact: / 020 3128 6339


NHS Blood and Transplant press office 01923 367 600 or email

For out of hours media enquiries please call 0117 969 2444 / 020 3128 6339

How to support  #TimeToSign

Show your support for organ donation on social media by posting about signing up to the ODR and using the hashtag #TimeToSign

Notes for Editors:

*Populus interviewed a random sample of 2,064 UK adults aged 18+ by online survey between 30th October – 2nd November 2015.  Surveys were conducted across the country and the results have been weighted to the profile of all adults.  Populus is a founder member of the British Polling Council and abides by its rules. Further information at

** Figures on 1st October 2015.  6,856 patients on the active waiting list for a transplant. 3,194 have waited less than a year, 1,584 between 1 and 2 years, 905 between 2 and 3 years, 454 between 3 and 4 years, 208 between 4 and 5 years, 139 between 5 and 6 years, 91 between 6 and 7 years, 281 more than 7 years

*** Figures on 1st October 2015. 

The average waiting times for organs are published annually in the Organ Donation and Transplantation Activity Report. Figures in this release cover the average waiting times for those registered on the list for a kidney transplant between 1 April 2008 and 31 March 2012 and those registered on the list for a liver, heart and lung transplant between 1 April 2010 and 31 March 2013. There is an Urgent Heart Scheme and Super Urgent Liver List for patients in desperately urgent clinical need for a transplant.

NHS Blood and Transplant (NHSBT) is a joint England and Wales Special Health Authority. Its remit includes the provision of a reliable, efficient supply of blood and associated services to the NHS in England and North Wales. It is also the organ donor organisation for the whole of the UK and is responsible for matching and allocating donated organs.

21.8 million people in the UK have already signed onto the NHS Organ Donor Register.  These people have joined the Register to record their decision to donate organs and/or tissue after their death for transplantation. This information is used by authorised medical staff to establish whether a person wanted to donate. A newly build ODR has just been launched in the UK. This also gives registrants the option to register a decision not to donate their organs or to nominate others to make the decision for them after their death.

Anyone can register on the ODR. Age isn’t a barrier to being an organ or tissue donor and neither are most medical conditions. People in their 70s and 80s have become donors and saved many lives.

One donor can save or transform up to 9 lives and many more can be helped through the donation of tissues.

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