‘Time to Talk’ Organ Donation Campaign

Caroline Myers, Social Lites WI President

In 2014 the WI passed a resolution called ‘Time to Talk’ and it calls on every member of the WI to make their wishes regarding organ donation known, and to encourage their families and friends, and members of their local communities to do likewise.

One of the largest barriers to donation today is the rate of family consent. Even if someone is on the NHS Organ Donor Register, their family could override their wishes and research has shown that 1 in 7 families block donation from going ahead simply because they aren’t aware of their loved ones wishes.

The overall family consent rate for organ donation in the UK is 60%- this is one of the lowest rates in all of Europe. Half of all UK residents have never spoken about their organ donation wishes with anyone. So, people sign-up to the Register, then never tell anyone, and then in the majority of cases their family will override their wishes.


In the UK one in three people are registered on the organ donor register. In Manchester this drops to just one in four and with 565 people in Manchester waiting for an organ, 207 people have died over the past five years because of the shortage of donors. With over one hundred WI branches in the Greater Manchester area and more than 5000 members, the WI, along with NHS Blood and Transplant and Manchester City Council, decided it was time for action!

Last year the Social Lites, along with Manchester WI, the University of Manchester Busy Bees, The Heatons and Old Trafford Wonder Women were asked to form an advisory panel to liaise with the Public Affairs team of the National Federation of Women’s Institutes to plan a summer of action in Greater Manchester from May until Organ Donation Week (5 – 11 September 2016).


Last week we attended the launch event of this campaign at Manchester Town Hall. The meeting started in true WI style with a rousing rendition of Jerusalem. William Blake’s poetry certainly resonates when sung in the Victorian gothic splendour of the Lord Mayor’s Parlour, with (male) denizens from times past looking down from portraits hung around the room.


Marylyn Haines Evans, NFWI Vice-Chair and Chair of Public Affairs welcomed us to the meeting and introduced David Regan, Director of Public Health and Claire Dolling, Senior Partnership Development Officer with NHSBT, who gave some background on their work to date in our region. Katie from Cottonopolis WI then spoke movingly about her brother, who has Cystic Fibrosis and requires a lung transplant. Further speeches were heard from Kaf (Old Trafford Wonder Women), Sue (The Heatons) and Emma (University of Manchester Busy Bees) and our President Caroline about our plans to support the campaign and calling upon other WIs to pledge action.


With fun days, coffee mornings, blood donations, yarn bombings and choir concerts planned, Greater Manchester is showing that once again the WI is truly a force to be reckoned with.

If you would like to know more about the organ donation campaign visit www.thewi.org.uk/campaigns or follow on Twitter @womensinstitute #WITimetoTalk

If you would like to register as an organ donor please go to www.organdonation.nhs.uk/wi

Remember to take the time to talk about your decision with your family.


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