Documentary celebrates life-changing organ donations

Hospital to screen documentary sharing the stories of donor families and transplant patients

Thursday 5th September 2019

A hospital in Scotland has commissioned a documentary to form part of a permanent art installation celebrating the life-changing impact of organ donation.

The feature, which will be screened at the emergency department entrance at Aberdeen Royal Infirmary, tells the stories of donor families and patients who have had their lives changed by a transplant, as well as the clinicians who support them.

Local artist Brian Keeley, who had a massive heart attack in 2013 and spent 101 days in intensive care before receiving a heart transplant, shares his experience in the short movie.

Brian said: "I’m alive today because someone, somewhere, had added their name to the organ donor register and their family supported that decision. I went from contemplating my own mortality to realising that I might have a future after all.

“I owe a huge debt of gratitude to all of the clinical professionals involved in the field of transplant and donation, and to the organ donor whose heart now beats within me.”

Harry Bruce, from Aberdeen, lost his son Stuart in 2017.

He was unaware Stuart had signed up to the organ donation register and, despite initial concerns, he and his wife Sadie consented to Stuart’s kidneys, lungs and a heart valve being donated.

Harry said: “I was stunned when I realised Stuart had put his name on the register, as he’d never said anything to us. I wasn’t sure but Sadie pointed out that it could be one of us waiting for a donor, so we went ahead with it.

“We still miss Stuart terribly but we do take some comfort from knowing others are living a healthy life, thanks to him.”

In 2018, 44 people died in Scotland while waiting for a transplant.

Despite a new law that will come into effect in Autumn 2020 making consent for organ donation the default position, health chiefs say it is still “incredibly important” people let their family know about their wishes.

Just 1% of people die in circumstances that allow organ donation.

Rhona Atkinson, acting chair of NHS Grampian and chair of the organ donation committee, said: “This film is the exciting culmination of a project our committee has been working on for some time. “A space in the hospital has long been held for an installation to commemorate organ donors.

“We considered a whole range of projects until we hit on the idea of a film.

“The personal testimony of those who have received a transplant and those who make the very difficult decision to allow organ donation is incredibly powerful.”

Public health minister Joe FitzPatrick said: “NHS Grampian’s short film will give people a better insight into the difference donation can make and how it saves or improves people’s lives.

“I am grateful to those participating in Organ Donation Week for continuing the conversation and encouraging people to make a choice about donation and to discuss that with their loved ones.”




Pictured: Harry and Sadie Bruce