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New comic shares the gift of organ donation

The tragic death of a University of Dundee lecturer’s son, whose organ donation renewed the lives of nine strangers, has inspired a new comic that aims to get the public talking about life after death.

The new comic is a collaboration between the University of Dundee and the NHS, and seeks to get high school-aged children and the wider public thinking about organ donation.

Entitled The Gift, it will be launched on Monday 3 September to kick-off Organ Donation Week in Scotland.

The 32-page book, written by recipients of organ donation, the families of donors as well as University and NHS staff, shares the heartfelt stories of individual patients and their families affected by organ and tissue donation.

Mayra Crowe, a lecturer in Spanish at the University, said that she was pleased to see her son Andrew’s story feature in The Gift.

She said, “Over the last seven years, I have had the honour of being an ambassador for the NHS Organ Donation campaign. During this time I have met so many courageous and selfless people. But a hard part of this is trying to explain to kids that unfortunately sometimes children do die.

“My own son Andrew died suddenly from a brain aneurism and our family were faced with a challenging decision. We never knew what Andrew thought about organ donation but we did know what kind of loving person he was. It is because of his organ donation that nine people now enjoy a renewed quality of life.

For me, being an organ and tissue donation ambassador has provided a platform to tell my son’s story and get families discussing the possibility of donation after the worst has happened. Now, I hope this comic will do the same.”

Lynne Malley, Specialist Nurse Organ Donation with NHS Tayside, said, “Around 500 people are waiting for an organ transplant in Scotland at the moment but there are not enough organs to meet these needs. Sadly someone dies every day whilst waiting for an organ.

“We hope that this new comic will raise awareness of the importance of organ donation and prompt honest conversations amongst loved ones.

“Lots of people think they would be unsuitable to donate organs and tissues because of medical history or lifestyle choices, but each potential donor is individually assessed and we need people from all ethnicities and backgrounds to register.”

The Gift is the latest in a series of educational comics designed by the University's Scottish Centre for Comics Studies, and produced by Ink Pot Studios, which is based in Dundee Comics Creative Space.

The artists and writers involved in the comic include Mayra Crowe, Damon Herd, Rebecca Horner, Laura Findlay, Chris Murray, Golnar Nabizadeh, Ashling Larkin, Elliot Balson, Megan Sinclair, Philip Vaughan, Letty Wilson, Catriona Laird, Helen Robinson and Norrie Millar.

It follows on from the success of 'Fibromyalgia and Us' (2017), which was downloaded over 12,000 times. Future projects from the University's comics department include comics on heart disease, coeliac disease, suicide awareness, and disability rights.

Those interested in organ donation can register to be a donor at www.weneedeverybody.org.