NHS UK Transplant

Planning for the worst isn’t something that any of us like to do but where organ donation is concerned, our own plans in the event of death could give another individual the chance of life. And yet even when a person makes this generous commitment, their wishes could still be overruled, or at least that was the case until the Human Tissue Act became law on September 1st 2006.

Currently, the wishes of one in ten people who have registered to donate (there are 13.5 million people on the NHS Organ Donors register) are overruled by their families, denying many critically ill patients the chance of a transplant. The new Act makes it clear that if someone wants to donate, their wishes should be fulfilled.  

Our objectives for this campaign were to raise awareness of the positive changes the Human Tissue Act will have, to encourage people to sign up to the NHS Organ Donor Register as well as remembering to inform a relative or friend of their wishes. We were initially asked just to target regional TV and radio.

We had to spread the message quickly and effectively but we also had to find a way to create enough resonance with individual listeners to increase our chances of them actually registering or discussing the issue with their families. With a limited budget the key had to be providing broadcasters with impactful local case studies. UK Transplant fully brought into the idea and in the two months running up to story day, were able to line up an astonishing 30 case studies as well as give us extensive information on transplant waiting lists, transplant operations carried out and organ donors registered in each area.

With case studies in just about every TV region of the UK, we undertook a massive sell in from mid August. As story day approached we found ourselves picking up the briefing of all national TV and radio as well.

The campaign was a phenomenal success.  There were at least 32 items of TV coverage on 19 national and regional TV stations.  A staggering 39 television interviews were carried out with UK Transplant spokespeople and the case studies. Coverage included features on GMTV, BBC1 Breakfast, the BBC1 and ITV1 Lunchtime News, Channel 4 News at Noon, Channel 4 News, Channel 5 News, both 24 hour news channels and 9 BBC and ITV regional stations.

The radio coverage took the campaign messages to the listeners of more than 140 UK radio stations with a combined weekly reach of over 30 million. Stations involved in the campaign included BBC Radio 1, BBC Radio 2, BBC Radio 4, BBC Radio 5 Live, Heart 106.2 (London), LBC, Red Dragon, Real Radio, BRMB, Saga and over 30 regional BBC stations.

The campaign had a real effect. 27,290 people visited the UK Transplant website in the week that the campaign ran, up from 7,605 in the preceding week.  On the day of the story, there was a 500+% increase in calls to the Organ Donor Line. This resulted in 7,138 online applications to join the register in the three days from 31st August to 2nd September, compared to 581 in the three days from 24th to 26th August.

If you remain in doubt about organ donation, it may be interesting to note that you are more likely to need a transplant than you are to become a donor. So perhaps today is the day to alter the statistics. For further information please visit www.uktransplant.org.uk or call 0845 60 60 400