Mr Robin Swann, the North Antrim Ulster Unionist Party Assembly member and UUP Leader, has called on people to make it their New Year Resolution to seriously consider signing up for the Organ Donor card and becoming blood donors, too in 2018.
Assemblyman Swann made his appeal as part of his New Year message to North Antrim constituents.
Mr Swann said: “I recall in a past Assembly attending a function at Parliament Buildings Stormont to announce that that year’s British Transplant Games would be in Belfast.
Mr Swann added: “The Ulster Unionist Party has often stressed the need for donors to come forward in Northern Ireland and it is hoped that by raising awareness, the UUP will be able to promote an initiative which save lives.
“I want to make raising such awareness one of my personal pledges during 2018 as over 8,000 people are currently waiting for transplants in the UK.
“We need to reduce these numbers and it is for this reason that the UUP is trying to raise awareness of this crucial issue.”
Mr Swann revealed the UUP initially became involved in the project during MEP Jim Nicholson’s successful re-election campaign when party member Jo-Anne Dobson’s son Mark underwent surgery.
“As parents, many of us fully understand the importance of organ donation and we believe it is vital that people see the public face of a transplant patient rather than just statistics.
“Mark is one of the lucky ones and we should all endeavor to do what we can to help others get a second chance at life as he has done.”
Assemblyman Swann added: “I would encourage you and your family to sign up and register – it is not enough to simply carry a card as you must also be listed on the Organ Donor Register.
“You need only to meet Mark or someone who has had an organ transplant to witness the positive effects this initiative can have on a family – they are huge. The reality is that three people a day while waiting on a transplant – we need to aim to bring this number down,” said Assemblyman Swann.
Mr Swann also added that he is a blood donor, too, and encouraged as many constituents as possible to equally consider becoming blood donors.