Publicity about UK’s youngest organ donor prompted millions to think and talk about organ donation

Monday, 28 Sep 2015

More than 4 million parents considered whether they would donate their children’s organs after learning of Teddy Houlston, the UK’s youngest organ donor.

Teddy, who lived for just 100 minutes, successfully donated his kidneys to an adult.

His parents, Mike Houlston and Jess Evans, will this week receive a Special Recognition Award at the Daily Mirror’s Pride of Britain Awards.

In a survey, published to coincide with the awards, 37% of UK adults who recall news coverage of Teddy’s donation – an estimated 4.3 million adults - said it made them think whether they would want their own children to be organ donors.*

Teddy’s story also inspired people to consider donation of their own organs when they die and to talk about organ donation with friends and family.

Of those who recalled seeing or reading his story:

  • 47% - an estimated 5.6 million adults - agreed Teddy’s story made them think about whether they wanted to donate their organs after they die
  • 28% - an estimated 3.3 million adults - agreed that Teddy’s story led them to talk to friends and family about donating their organs after they die

Sally Johnson, Director of Organ Donation and Transplantation at NHS Blood and Transplant said: “We’re grateful to every family who donates a relative’s organs and know that real stories about families donating loved one’s organs are extremely powerful. The results of our survey show just how important these stories are to encourage people to think and talk about donation. We’re grateful to Mike and Jess for sharing their baby son’s story and to all who helped highlight it.

“We’re delighted Mike and Jess have been recognised by Pride of Britain for showing such determination in breaking down barriers surrounding organ donation during their twins’ pregnancy, and putting their own grief aside to share Teddy’s story to promote organ donation.”

Teddy’s parents approached medical teams about the possibility of organ donation after he was diagnosed with a condition called anencephaly in pregnancy.

Mike Houlston and Jess Evans said: “When we found out Teddy wouldn’t survive we were devastated, but knowing that his short life had such a purpose has helped us so much. We’re honoured to receive a Pride of Britain award and believe that not only are we receiving it for Teddy but for other parents who have donated their own baby or child’s organs.”

Donation from very young babies is rare as transplant surgeons only recently started to transplant organs from neonates, following experience with slightly older babies.

NHS Blood and Transplant says greater awareness is also needed of the need for organ donors for children of all ages.

Across the UK, 193 children are amongst the 6,912 people currently waiting for a transplant. Almost 60 of these children are waiting for heart, lung or heart/lung transplants. In the past decade 207 children have died waiting for a transplant.

Sally Johnson added: “While every potential donation from a small baby will need to be considered on a case by case basis, the awareness triggered by Teddy’s story has led to more enquiries from families in a similar position who want to find out whether they may be able to donate their own baby’s organs.

“Importantly his story has also led to millions of people considering the difficult question whether they would donate their own children’s organs. There are lots of children in need of a transplant and some organs, such as hearts and lungs, need to be the right size for transplant. If we are to save the life of these children, another family needs to make the selfless decision to help others by donating their own child’s organs at a time of devastating loss.”

To sign up to the NHS Organ Donor Register, visit: www.organdonation.nhs.uk

526,712 people in the UK signed up to the NHS Organ Donor Register for the first time between 1 April and 31 August 2015. This compares to 414,426 for the same period last year. This means year on year, we have seen an increase of 112,286 new registrations.

The Daily Mirror Pride of Britain Awards will be shown on ITV at 8pm on Thursday 1 October.

Ends

*Populus interviewed a random sample of 2,131 UK adults aged 18+ through an online survey between 18-20 September 2015. Surveys were conducted across the UK 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 www.populus.co.uk.

For more information contact the NHS Blood and Transplant press office on tel: 01923 367 600 or email: pressoffice@nhsbt.nhs.uk

Out of hours contact 0117 969 2444

Notes for Editors:

    • 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.
    • 21.1 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.
    • It’s simple to join the ODR by:
      - going to www.organdonation.nhs.uk
      - ringing 0300 123 23 23
    • 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