You might be struggling to work out what to get friends and family for Christmas, but for 1,374 Londoners all they really want is an organ.
That's how many people in the city are on the waiting list for an organ transplant; 624 had the potentially life-changing operation this year, but 49 people died while waiting for a new organ. That's why NHS Blood and Transplant is running a campaign to get more people to join the Organ Donor Register. It might not be what you want to think about during the festive season of joy, but sign up now and you could bring the gift of life to someone after you die.
Not convinced? Hannah Whittam from New Southgate had a heart and lung transplant 10 years ago when she was just 10 years old. Hannah has Cystic Fibrosis but after the transplant, she says:
"Everything has changed for me. I used to be in a wheelchair, on oxygen, with a feeding tube. I spent most of my time in hospital. Now I can do things that every normal person can do. When I tell people that I had a transplant some don't even know what that is and I have to explain. I want people to be aware of it and sign up for those on the waiting list, it can save their lives."
Delroy Cottrell, from Catford, has the hereditary illness polycystic kidney disease and had a kidney transplant in July this year. He's already back at work — been back for six weeks, in fact — and says he feels fine. He was on the waiting list for nine or 10 months, but his Dad wasn't so lucky:
"My Dad was offered a kidney eight years ago but he told them to give it to someone younger, he didn't really understand how it worked. He was on dialysis for nine years and had a transplant about six weeks ago."
Delroy particularly wants to encourage members of the black, Asian and minority ethnic communities to sign up. There's a shortage of donors and so BAME patients end up waiting longer than they should. He thinks it's partly religion and culture that stops people signing up but, he says, "when I was in hospital there were a lot of black people in there — black people need organs too! I've had a lot of family members change their mind about organ donation because of what's happened to me. It just needs to be promoted." [The Organ Donation Service has a series of leaflets and online information looking at organ donation from different religious perspectives.]
If you'd like to sign up you can do so online — and don't forget to tell your family about your wishes. If you'd like to help save a life in the short term, why not check if you're eligible to give blood? Our video below shows there's nothing to be scared of...