Antarctica, Lemaire Channel

Top of Lemaire, East, originally uploaded by maltjerry.

I found an unpublished blog post from the Antarctica trip in my Drafts folder. Beats writing about Staines.

The actual blog entry, describing the journey down the beautiful Lemaire Channel towards the Vernadsky research base is from 18 March 2008. You can find it here.


National Transplant Week: The Missing Piece?

I’m already a day late with reporting on what is probably the most important week of the year for the Transplant Trust. Yes, the launch of National Transplant Week was Monday 6 July. But at least we were there to report it.

It was a good and enjoyable evening, (fine) with some insightful talks given by illustrious speakers and valuable points made by distinguished guests (tick). There was inspiration in abundance and some great networking opportunities and the forging of friendships (great!). So why was I left with a feeling of something missing?

National Transplant Week is A big deal for the Transplant Trust: the opportunity for the charity to put itself in the limelight for a week and provide some impetus for the lofty goals it has set itself. This year’s target is 100,000 new registrations to the Organ Donor Register. There’s even a great idea (which I’ll tell you about later). This morning, I found myself thinking, who was there to get the word out?

I suppose I was expecting media: national press would’ve be great. Potential sponsors in abundance would’ve been great too. There were some directors and PR people among the delegates. There were also political representatives: Jean-Paul Maytam from the Department of Health spoke eloquently, Baroness Ilora Finlay dropped by on the way to vote for an important piece of legislation in the House of Lords. But perhaps the most important guest for me was Sarah Springett singer from the band The Floe. She came, told her story and promised to get the word out. Today I realised Sarah was my clue to what that nagging “missing” was: me.

The Floe? oh! so not “The Flow” then? I’m not exactly in a position to pass comment on either artistic merit, or whether I should have asked for an autograph for my nieces. However, she gave me an insight. Sarah Springett is an organ donor. 7 months ago, she donated a kidney to her boyfriend, who was also there. Both are doing well, which is great, but  Sarah has pledged to put the word out from the vantage point she has in popular culture. On top of that, she has a song “I hope you know” to be released later this year, with some profits going to the Transplant Trust.

You see, Sarah Springett has taken the job on herself. She’s not waiting for any press to do the job for her and, in what we are told is a bad year for charities in general, that is exactly the sort of thing the Transplant Trust needs. We have this blog, we do some talks, but I’m on Twitter and Facebook – everybody has access to these. It’s time to put it about a bit.

And so, that great idea? “The Wall of Life” a new website: will surely help with the target of registrations to the Organ Donor Register. I suggest you have a look – this post is already too long.

We felt, already, last night, that it was time for a new project, and now I know why: if we are going to make an impact on those Organ Donor Register figures, it’s up to us. Thanks Sarah, and special thanks to an old school friend, Kevin, who took my suggestion and signed up. One more! Right, who’s next?

An “Ordinary” Job: Making Someone “Supernormal”

The best description I have heard of Cim so far: “Supernormal”. Dr Malcolm Brown of  Astellas Pharmaceuticals came up with that during our presentation on 3 July at the Staines-based pharmaceutical company, near Heathrow. Astellas is the company that makes Prograf, the anti- rejection drug Cim has taken ever since her kidney transplant in December 2004.

Out on the road again with the Transplant Trust charity in advance of National Transplant Week, and an opportunity to give our talk “From Dialysis to Antarctica” – albeit in short form. It’s great to get out there and show people how well Cim is – it’s part of our way of putting something back.

Dr Brown is a former transplant surgeon himself and used this Learning Lunch to introduce the topics of  transplantation to an audience within Astellas that included the transplant side and others. We had an audience of  about 70 Astellas employees volunteering to spend their lunch hour finding out what the Company does in the world.

We were far from the only draw: Vashti Poole talked about the Transplant Trust and there were some very touching videos about the contribution the medication that Astella produces makes to the lives of transplant patients and also the sponsorship Astellas is involved in with foundations such as Tackers, who make possible a skiing holiday for groups of teenage transplant kids.

Very encouraging for us to hear back from Astellas staff  about how seeing a real live former kidney patient has benefited from their products. Somebody said what sometimes seems like an “ordinary” job is given a different perspective when you see how as an employee, they have contributed to the real difference their company has made.