IN his daughter's memory, an Exmouth father has vowed to continue his campaign to encourage people to sign-up to become organ donors and change Government legislation to make the organ donor scheme opt-out rather than opt-in.
This year, the Echo has followed the brave fight of Steve Gazzard's daughter Sarah Wright, a mother-of-three, who recently died aged 36 while waiting for a double lung transplant for a chronic lung condition. In her death, she gave life to three other people – her kidneys and liver were donated to others who would have died without them.
Three sign-up days hosted in the Strand gardens by Mr Gazzard, who is also an Exmouth town councillor, has seen 130 people sign up to the organ donor register.
The British Lung Foundation said there has been an increase of people signing up to the scheme in the Exmouth area following news about Sarah's condition several months ago.
And as previously reported by the Echo, councillors on East Devon District Council have unanimously backed Mr Gazzard's motion for the authority to support his campaign. There are 12 people on the waiting list for a transplant in East Devon.
"It's been a roller coaster year," said Steve. "One minute Sarah was doing well, the next she was down and being rushed into hospital, then she was back home again, and then back in hospital and being transferred to Harefield Hospital in London where she died.
"The NHS come under a lot of attack but the care and support Sarah received from her local GP to the Royal Devon & Exeter Hospital to Brompton and then Harefield was magnificent.
"I said to her whatever happens I would carry out what she wanted which was for more people to become donors and ultimately to get the system changed to opt-out."
In the last few months Mr Gazzard has written to East Devon MP Hugo Swire and Health Minister Jeremy Hunt.
He has also taken his campaign to Parliament – accompanied by Jacquie Spencer, the NHS team manager for the South West organ donation team. Mr Gazzard told his daughter's story to the All Party Parliamentary Group for Transplantation who's goal is to boost donations by 50 per cent by 2013.
He is also urging people to sign the e-petition which is calling for the scheme to be changed to opt-out.
On Tuesday, January 15, a fundraising event for an MRI scanner at Harefield Hospital is being held at Franklins Café, Bar and Restaurant in the Strand in Exmouth, details are yet to be confirmed.
"I don't think there is the political will to change the system," said Mr Gazzard. "And I have my off days. But I want to try and keep the message about the campaign in people's minds."
To sign the petition to change the organ donor scheme to opt-out, go to http://.epeti tions.direct.gov.uk/peti tions/38220. To register as an organ donor visit www.organdonation.nhs.uk/ukt or call 0300 123 2323.