Editor's Viewpoint: Save lives at the stroke of a pen
Even in this cynical age when so much of sport has been devalued by overpaid stars, cheating and other chicanery, it is impossible not to applaud all those who take part in the Transplant Games at national and international level.
These are dedicated athletes in their own right, but who have the perspective of knowing they are fortunate to be alive never mind competing to a high standard. Next year the Westfield Health British Transplant Games will come to Belfast.
This newspaper hopes that the Games will have two very positive outcomes. One, provide a much-needed boost to the local economy - the event could bring in an extra £2.5m - and, two, much more importantly boost the number of organ donors in the province. Shamefully, this is the worst performing region of the UK with just 26% of the population signed up to the NHS Organ Donor Register. It is a figure we should drastically improve.
The shortage of donor organs leaves a terrible legacy. This year alone eight people in the province have died waiting for a donor organ. Those were needless deaths if only more people signed the register. In this newspaper today we carry the story of one family who, in the midst of their terrible grief at the death of their six year old son, decided to donate his organs. By this family's selfless act, the lives of four other people were saved.
We also tell of the four-year-old boy who is the other side of the coin. He needs a new kidney but none is available, leaving him requiring daily dialysis and severely restricting his lifestyle.
It is an unfortunate fact that, in most cases, someone must die to provide organs so that others can live. But if tragedy is to have any meaning then surely the fact that others can benefit must be some consolation.
We all have the power to save lives with the simple stroke of a pen - just sign the donor register and do it now.
How to sign up
The Belfast Telegraph is calling on its readers to sign up and save lives — with only 26% of the population on the Organ Donor Register, the province is lagging behind many other regions in the UK when it comes to committing to giving one of the greatest gifts possible. To join the NHS Organ Donor Register and help save lives in Northern Ireland, text SAVE to 84118, telephone 0300 123 2323 or log onto www.organdonation.nhs.uk.