Cara and Amy at the transplant games dinner.

Cara Hearst had a life-saving transplant at King’s in early 2009. Since then she has recovered well and recently qualified from Queens as a fully qualified nurse.

Her younger sister Amy has been close to Cara through all her highs and lows.  Amy began an undergraduate course in Physics at Southampton University in September 2011 and has carried her passion for the cause of organ donation onto the campus by forming a society called SUODA – Southampton University Organ Donation Awareness

SUODA is made up of a few committed members. They have held awareness days on campus including a bake sale and a stall. At their first event, members signed up 15 people to the register. They recently collaborated with Southampton Hub to do an online photo campaign. Students around the university were asked to write on a whiteboard their reasons for believing in the benefits of organ donation. They could tag and share their photos on Facebook and were entered into a prize draw. Each photo had a link to a specially commissioned website so that the number of people signing on to the register could be counted.  As a result, 193 new people signed on. The society has plans to keep getting more people signed up and to educate the student population on why joining the register is so important.

Interviewed as President of SUODA for a local paper, Wessex Scene, Amy spoke of the society’s story so far and its plans for the future. “Organ donation is not something that I gave a lot of thought to until a few years ago when my sister suffered liver failure. She was 18. She was taken by air ambulance from Belfast to King’s College Hospital in London and put to the top of waiting list for transplant. She was fortunate enough to undergo a successful liver transplant after a three-day wait. Unfortunately, there are people suffering for years with chronic illnesses, waiting for transplants because there is such a shortage of available organs”.

“It wasn’t until a friend at St Andrew’s told me she had joined an Organ Donation Society at the university that I thought I could do something to promote organ donation. I contacted the society president and asked what sort of things they did. It was a new idea being funded and tested by NHS Blood and Transplant in Scotland, to raise awareness amongst students. There isn’t a lot of funding available but I thought I could start one here at Southampton because all we really need are interested people, a room to meet and some decent ideas!

SUODA is for anyone and everyone, even those already on the register.  Medical students and students of any of the allied health professions may find the society interesting and relevant but no matter what your course, we hope that membership will be worthwhile.”