Former footballer, turned pundit and manager, Jimmy Bullard is used to tackling tricky questions around the game, which for some is matter of life and death. But he had the tables turned on him when a child who has had a kidney transplant grilled him not just on football, but a real matter of life and death - organ donation.
Known as the funnyman of football, Jimmy showed his serious side when faced with questions from Matthew Pietrzyk, aged 11, from Leicester. His grilling was part of his support for NHS Blood and Transplant’s Sign for Life Campaign. This sees football fans across the country being urged to blow the whistle on organ transplant waiting lists, by joining the NHS Organ Donor Register and telling their family and friends.
Matthew had a kidney transplant in 2016 after eight years on the waiting list. He grabbed the chance to interview footballers supporting Sign for Life including Jimmy Bullard, Rickie Lambert, Matt Smith and Marc Richards, asking them about organ donation, as well as probing into their footy careers.
Matthew said: “My transplant has been life changing, I can finally be normal like my friends. I’m slowly starting to join in and play football again.
“I’ve really enjoyed interviewing the football players. I’m lucky because I’ve had my transplant but there are still so many others waiting. So do the right thing and sign up today.”
Jimmy Bullard, midfielder turned football pundit, said: “Come on guys, sign the Organ Donor Register today. It takes just two minutes, that’s all it takes and you could help people like Matthew.”
NHS Blood and Transplant has teamed up with more than 45sports organisations, from top Premiership and Championship clubs including Everton Football Club, Queens Park Rangers and Middlesbrough FC, to grassroots squads. The Sign for Life campaign asks supporters across the country to think about organ donation and to be inspired by their club to score another name on the NHS Organ Donor Register as well as tell their family they want to be an organ donor.
Right now there are around 6,500 people waiting for a transplant and on average three people die every day because of the shortage of organs available. This situation needs to be shown the red card.
One organ donor can save or transform the lives of up to nine people. The goal is to get more fans, their families and friends signed by the NHS Organ Donor Register and talking about organ donation. If more families agreed to donate their loved one’s organs, the result would be more lives saved.
Clubs are supporting the campaign in various ways and they are urging fans to join the register and make their match day chat about organ donation.
Anthony Clarkson, Assistant Director for Organ Donation and Nursing, at NHS Blood and Transplant said: “We know that for any football fan their support for their club is a lifelong commitment and passion, and one that they will proudly discuss with their family and friends.
“In partnership with clubs, we want fans to show the same pride about their decision to be an organ donor and tell everyone that they and their club are passionate about saving lives. Every club will have fans who are waiting for a lifesaving transplant. By joining the NHS Organ Donor Register and sharing your decision, you could save lives.
“We are delighted to have so many players and clubs working with us. Together we can use our national game as a force for good, and help end transplants waiting lists and people dying in need of a transplant.”
Clubs across the country have pledged their support for the campaign, which runs until April 9, and also includes football associations, rugby clubs and cricket teams. The Sign For Life squad includes Everton Football Club, Queens Park Rangers, Middlesbrough, Southampton,Stoke,Northampton Town,Bolton Wanderers,Preston North End, Brighton and Hove Albion, Brentford, Plymouth Argyle,MK Dons, Scunthorpe and Peterborough.
Each club will be supporting the campaign in different ways, for example, by including information on organ donation in match day programmes, via official club social media channels and on stadium advertising boards.
Fans can join the NHS Organ Donor Register at www.organdonation.nhs.uk/signforlife (http://bit.ly/2nhveqh) or call 0300 123 23 23. Let your family and friends know about your decision to be an organ donor. Join the conversation online, using the hashtag #signforlife.
Clubs interested in getting behind the Sign For Life campaign can contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Jimmy Bullard’s video https://youtu.be/jl1uLTX6mlU
Rickie Lambert’s video https://youtu.be/ygHz6naIH-8
Other videos and photos are available on request
Media are welcome to use of the campaign assets, images, infographics etc http://transfer.23red.com/public/files/3u19-i9o9nehi
Notes to editors