Plea attracts 20,000 donors
By Chris WattTHE number of registered organ donors in Ireland has grown by record amounts after a heartfelt plea from ailing Glasgow-based screenwriter Frank Deasy.
More than 20,000 people have now signed up since the appeal, aired on radio and in national newspaper following Frank's death last week due to liver cancer, giving new hope to patients in the British Isles awaiting transplants.
The NHS is expected to publish its own figures on donor numbers today, but the success of Mr Deasy's campaign in Ireland has prompted speculation over a similar surge in donations within the writer's adopted homeland of Scotland.
There are currently 380 people awaiting liver transplants in the UK of whom one in five will die before a donor becomes available. One in 20 on the waiting list is a child.
Announcing the record rise in donor numbers, Mary Harney, the Irish Health Minister, pledged better co-operation between her country and the UK on the issue.
Donor pools are already shared around the British Isles, but often relatives must make a snap decision on donation in the hours after a loved one's death, the politician said.
Ms Harney also praised the screenwriter "for speaking out publicly about his illness and the importance of organ donation."
Mr Deasy, who was 49, was best known for the TV drama Prime Suspect.
9:40am Friday 25th September 2009