They’ll take my heart but not my blood

The ‘opt-out’ scheme proposed for organ donation is one I wholeheartedly support. It makes sense to me that your organs would automatically be considered for donation if they were viable after death.

I like the thought of helping someone out after death and I personally would hope that my loved ones would get something positive out of my passing if it helped to save others.

The new scheme is proposing a ‘soft’ option in that the decision would ultimately come down to your next of kin, So, if they decided in the event of your death that they couldn’t envisage your organs helping someone out, they get to say no.

So, ultimately, it’s not an automatic ‘yes’ to organ donation.

But what it does do is increase the numbers on the organ donation register, which can only be welcomed. I have expressly told my husband and parents that it would be my choice to donate my organs, and I think they would respect that wish, but I cannot for the life of me think if I’ve registered properly.

I think I got the chance to tick the box when filling out my driver’s licence but hand on heart, I cannot remember if I did. I was 18 when I passed my test and death wasn’t something that crossed my mind.

But this week, when reflecting on the scheme as it now stands, I have made a point of registering online. It took me all of three minutes and was nothing more than filling in my name, address and which organs and tissue I wish to be donated in the event of my death.

I feel quite altruistic; that I’ve done my bit for society.

And it’s something I feel passionate about given that I am unable to give blood.

In my early twenties I was a regular blood donor, despite the fact that I fainted on occasion and often felt weak following the donation.

However, when I was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis I was really disappointed to find out that my blood is no longer wanted. It does annoy me slightly as just because I have MS doesn’t mean my blood is infected. In fact, I have a card from the MS Society which clearly states, ‘I have Multiple Sclerosis. It is not infectious. I need assistance and would be grateful if you could help me.’

I rarely use it as I am perfectly capable of voicing all those things by myself as my speech is unaffected, but it serves its purpose here in that it clearly states MS is not infectious.

It’s slightly worrying that we need to write it so clearly in this day and age, but hey ho, you can’t have everything.

So, it seems ridiculous that they won’t take my blood, especially as donors are few and far between going by the number of calls the Northern Ireland Blood Transfusion Service put out for donors at blood sessions.

The reasoning behind them turning down blood from people with MS is that it’s ‘to protect both your health and the health of the recipient’. At face value it seems very considerate but I honestly cannot see how taking less than a pint of blood would affect me, nor how my condition would affect its use for someone else.

People close to me have been very vocal about the need to donate blood; it saves lives on a regular basis and you never know the hour in which that blood may be needed by you.

But I have had to make peace with the fact that my blood isn’t wanted.

I guess that’s why signing the organ donation register means so much more to me. After all, if they don’t want the blood my heart pumps, at least they want the heart itself.

You can sign up to the Organ Donation Register online at www.organdonation.nhs.uk

To find out more about local blood donation sessions log onto www.nibts.org.

The next two sessions in the city are at Clooney Hall, Waterside, on Friday, March 8, from 1.30pm-4pm and 5.15pm-8pm and at the BloodMobile at Magee University, on Wednesday, April 10, from 10.30am-1pm and 2.15pm-4.30pm.