As the 2012, Olympic Torch makes its way across Northern Ireland, the Public Health Agency (PHA) will be cheering on Orla Smyth, local transplant athlete, one of the fortunate few selected to carry the flame on part of its journey, today (at 4.18pm) from the Hillsborough Old Road (near The Close) to Ryanscourt .
Orla will represent transplant recipients, those on the transplant waiting list and donor families.
Orla Smyth said: “Because of the amazing generosity of my donor and her family I am approaching my fifth year as a transplanted patient fit and healthy, and I am so grateful for that.
“I’m delighted to carry the torch on part of its journey around Northern Ireland. This really is a once in a lifetime opportunity. I will proudly represent transplant recipients, those on the transplant waiting list, and in particular donor families – without them so many of us would still be on the waiting list and their kindness and generosity have turned many of our lives around.
“However, there are so many people who are still waiting for an organ that aren’t so lucky, so we need more people to sign the register. Organ donation really is ‘the gift of life’ – I am living proof of that, and I am hoping that everyone will take the step and sign on to the donor register and discuss their wishes with their families. There really is no bigger gift than that.”
Dr Eddie Rooney, Chief Executive of the Public Health Agency and Chair of the Northern Ireland Committee for Organ Donation said: “The PHA would like to congratulate Orla for being selected to carry the Olympic Torch and commend her constant efforts to promote awareness of organ donation and encourage others to sign the NHS Organ Donor Register.
“The number of people in Northern Ireland signing the NHS Organ Donor Register is steadily increasing. However, there are still not enough organs available, around 300 people in Northern Ireland are currently waiting for a transplant.
“Together we can help others in need and save lives by joining the Organ Donor Register. Please take the time to do so by filling in a form online at www.organdonation.nhs.uk, texting save to 84118 or calling the NHS Donor line on 0300 123 23 23.”
Contact the Public Health Agency on 028 90553663