Hundreds of volunteers cycle through the night to inspire new organ donors in the region
8 September 2017
Marking the start of Organ Donation Week, two hundred generous Yorkshire residents came together on Monday 4th September to voluntarily cycle for 24 hours straight to ‘keep Yorkshire’s heart beating’ and inspire more people in the region to sign the organ donor register.
Launched by Be A Hero, Yorkshire’s dedicated organ donation campaign, the 24 hour cycling event saw the two hundred selfless volunteers pedalling seven static bikes through the day and night to generate enough power to constantly inflate a giant seven foot inflatable heart.
The event was part of Yorkshire’s ambitious new challenge to inspire 50,000 new sign ups to the organ donor register in just six months and engaged with passers-by and members of the public at Victoria Gardens in Leeds to raise awareness of organ donation.
Launching the event was British Cycling Head Sprint Coach and liver transplant recipient, Justin Grace, along with Team GB’s Katy Marchant. They were accompanied by courageous transplant patients, the families of organ donors and specialist nurses and clinicians in organ donation from Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust.
Amongst the volunteers was keen cyclist, 13-year-old Esben Rost, who received a liver transplant in 2008 and recently participated in the World Transplant Games, winning a gold medal in the 5km event this year. Transplant recipient Paul Woodward also took to the bikes, celebrating 25 years to the week since his double lung transplant.
The event received overwhelming support from Yorkshire businesses, local authorities and members of the public, including West Yorkshire Fire & Rescue, West Yorkshire Police, local cycling scheme CityConnect, O2, Cube Training Services and The Gym Group, Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust (LTHT) and LTHT security who supported in cycling, awareness raising and delivering support services.
The Executive Directors from LTHT, including Chief Executive Julian Hartley, offered their support to the Be A Hero event, accompanied by Councillor Judith Blake, by taking to the bikes on Monday afternoon and encouraging participation from members of the public.
Dr Simon Flood, Clinical Lead in Organ Donation at LTHT, said; “We are absolutely overwhelmed with the incredible support and generosity of Yorkshire people. It’s a huge undertaking to keep seven bikes pedalling over 24 hours straight but with the support of local people, businesses and authorities, we had more than enough volunteers to keep Yorkshire’s heart beating.
“We very much hope that the hard work and awareness raising will encourage and inspire the three and half million Yorkshire residents that are not yet registered as organ donors to consider their wishes and the impact they could have on saving or significantly improving the lives of others”.
Ami and Liam Duggleby attended the event with their five-year-old daughter Lilly and one-year old daughter April to campaign all day. The family have relentlessly supported the cause after their daughter Minnie became the youngest organ donor in Yorkshire at just 23 days old.
The Be A Hero pedal power event was the start of an intensive six-month campaign which hopes to inspire 50,000 people in Yorkshire to sign the organ donor register and consider their wishes. The call to action has come as only a third of people in Yorkshire are registered donors and there are still over 500 people waiting for a transplant in the region.
To find out more about organ donation, please visit www.leedsth.nhs.uk/be-a-hero. You can also sign up to the donor register by calling 0300 123 23 23.
You can make a charitable donation to the Be A Hero campaign, which raises awareness of organ donation within Yorkshire, by visiting https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/bahy1