Hazel McHaffie

Valentine’s Day

Red roses and beating hearts

Last summer I wrote a piece about teenager, Hannah Jones, and my brother, Rob – both of whom made difficult choices in relation to treatment for cancer. Hannah declined a transplant, Rob accepted.

This week I’ve been in touch with both. Rob I saw in the flesh at a family wedding. Hannah’s Mum, Kirsty, contacted me through my blog – what an unexpected and delightful surprise. Hannah's ChoiceAnd subsequently Hannah herself emailed, and we’ve started up a lovely conversation.  I was impressed all over again, not only by their courage, but the generosity of spirit they show in sharing their stories. Happily both are still alive and a vital part of loving families. But Hannah is feeling rather poorly at the moment so loads of good wishes are winging their way to her.

It’s Valentine’s day today and all this week STV is supporting the nationwide From the Heart campaign, which aims to raise awareness of organ donation. As you know, my current novel, Over My Dead Body, is about this very issue, so my antennae are out there quivering like crazy.

The focus of the campaign is twofold: to encourage viewers to join the organ donor register, and to talk to their loved ones about their wishes. The blurb says that there are ‘currently around 10,000 people in the UK who need a transplant and a thousand of them die waiting every year. Yet only 31% of people have registered as donors – a much lower proportion than some other countries around the world.‘ And apparently, 45% of families say no to donation because they don’t know what their loved one would have wanted. That’s a quite shocking statistic in these days of easy communication, isn’t it?

I like the timing. In Valentine’s week, whatever the state of their own love life, everybody has the opportunity to give a gift that could potentially save or transform the lives of others. And talk to their nearest and dearest.

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