Magee student heads up organ donation campaign

Dr. Declan Grace, lead Clinician (Organ Donation) with the Western Health and Social Care Trust and University of Ulster at Magee Students, Daniel O'Rourke and Rachel Mullan, Education and Wefare Officer, during an Organ Donation awareness event at the campus Students Union. Daniel received a kidney transplant 16 years ago when he was three and a half years old. Picture Martin McKeown. Inpresspics.com. 21.3.11
Dr. Declan Grace, lead Clinician (Organ Donation) with the Western Health and Social Care Trust and University of Ulster at Magee Students, Daniel O'Rourke and Rachel Mullan, Education and Wefare Officer, during an Organ Donation awareness event at the campus Students Union. Daniel received a kidney transplant 16 years ago when he was three and a half years old. Picture Martin McKeown. Inpresspics.com. 21.3.11

One Magee student has combined his “passions of music and organ donation” to encourage thirty students to sign the NHS Organ Donation Register.

With over 300 people currently awaiting an organ donor in Northern Ireland, Daniel O’Rourke knows how important it is for more people to sign up.

Daniel, a first year music student at Magee, received a kidney when he was three.

“I was diagnosed with congenital nephrotic syndrome when I was about two weeks old and it was discovered I was born with the condition. I went on a dialysis machine for the first time when I was about one and a half and it went on until I received the donor organ when I was three.

“I believe my life began when I was three. The transplant has had a huge effect on my life. Thankfully I am one of the lucky ones and I only have to take a low dose of medication. Everything has been going really, really well and I have been healthy since.”

His involvement with promoting the NHS Organ Donation Register began when he raised over £1,600 at school towards the kidney fund.

“The register has done so much for me and I wanted to give something back” he said.

However, Daniel and his band the Blackberries have now written a song to emphasise the importance of organ donation.

The song, called ‘The Gift’ was performed at the St Patrick’s Day Festival in Belfast and at Magee Students Union last week. With the help of the Public Health Agency, Daniel set up a stand to encourage his peers to find out more about organ donation and to sign up to the register.

“The Gift is is very close to me, I’m hoping it will encourage others to sign up to the register, I was happy to hear the PHA would support my plea and come along with a stand to get people at the university to sign up. I’m hoping to play the song at the opening of this year’s Transplant Games in Belfast, which will be a great opportunity for everyone in Northern Ireland to come along and show their support to donor families, transplant recipients and those still waiting on a suitable organ.”

Over 10,000 people in the UK currently need a transplant. Of these, nearly 1,000 each year die waiting because not enough organs are available.

Anyone can register on the NHS Organ Donor Register. Age isn’t a barrier to being an organ donor and nor are most medical conditions.