Organ Donation Update From Andy Tookey
Well it's been a bit of a week or so!
Last Wednesday I flew down to Wellington to be the guest speaker at a few of the Lord of the Rings Events(on organ donation), and also to attend the Premiere of the Return of the King.
On Wednesday night I was due to speak at a function that had on it's invite list the Prime Minister, Governor General, American Ambassador and numerous other dignitaries. My petition has been with the Parliamentary Health Select Committee for over a year now, and funnily enough they decided to release their report to the media just hours before I was to speak, which would have taken the sting out of my speech... maybe it was coincidental.....(or am I a cynic!)
In saying that, the report was 100% in my favour, which again is highly unusual, as I would have expected the government members on the committee to follow the party line, but they didn't.
You can read their report and recommendations by clicking here: http://www.givelife.org.nz/page.cfm?s=2424,2442,2990,100004394
The reports in the newspapers following the report release can be viewed here: http://www.givelife.org.nz/page.cfm?s=2424,2442,2836,100004197
Though we have won that battle, we haven't yet won the war, as the government can choose to ignore the committee's report. (That's if they dare mess with the 'Tookinator'! ) The government will respond to the report by February 2004.
There is still much more to do, and one of the projects that I hope to work on over Christmas is to put together an education package for schools, I just then need to persuade the government to include it in the school curriculum as they do in other countries. I am currently looking at a James Redford Institute educational program (He is the son of actor Robert Redford and has the same disease as Katie.) I would be happy to travel to schools and talk on the subject, I am passionate about it, but not fanatical, I am not advocating that everyone should be a donor, that is down to personal choice, I am advocating that the information should be out there so that people can make an 'informed' choice, and if they do choose to be a donor, that the current barriers that are in place are removed. I think the key to a successful education campaign is over time to change attitudes so as organ donation becomes a moral responsibility in people's minds, such as being a blood donor, stopping to help at an accident, reporting a crime etc.
There is also the issue of re-imbursement of expenses for live donors for me to try and progress, and a push to put in a bid to host the world transplant games.
In the meantime, Katie continues to be well, in fact since we have stopped taking her to the hospital she is better than ever as she is not getting infections from there! Most children with Biliary Atresia need a transplant by age one, Katie has now turned two, just as well as the wheels of justice turn very slowly!
I note that in Parliament's question time this week the Minister of Transport was asked to justify spending seven million dollars on transport measures, he finished his reply with "If one life is saved by those measures then they have been worth doing."
Whereas earlier this year it was revealed that the Ministry of Health have not spent a single dollar in the past four years on public awareness for organ donation. With the Deputy Director of Health saying "Why would we target four million people just to get an extra thirty decisions a year?" (a posibble 200 lives saved) I think maybe he needs to have a chat with the Minister of Transport!
I am grateful to the select committee for their support, in particular the National Party who included a reform to the organ donor system in their election manifesto, and the Green Party who last week publicly stated their Party support. I look forward to the support from other parties.
As for the World Premiere of Return of the King. Well as it is not strictly part of the campaign, though I was there to speak at some LOTR events and Peter Jackson has been wonderful in his support (and we had the best seats in the Embassy Theatre!) It was an experience not to forget, the whole week of events leading up to it, including the select committee report is something that we will always remember. The money raised at the functions I spoke at I am hoping will go towards paying for air time to screen the organ donor ad, made by Cameron Duncan, who died just a few weeks ago aged 17. By the way his DVD, 'Strike Zone' which has also included on it the organ donor ad is now on sale at Whitcoulls and the Wharehouse.
Now that Peter has finished his trilogy, I am hoping he will have more time for us to get together and work on a few more 'ideas' that I have...
My ten year old son, Bradley will have memories for life of this event, though having a 'wicked' sense of humour (picked up from his dad) he was interviewed live on radio after the movie and was asked about the film. He said it was great, etc, etc. but then said "Though I am not allowed to tell you what happens in the movie, not even how Frodo dies in the end...." (He doesn't! but it would have made a few heartbeats skip around the world!)
Thanks again to all you supporters from all over the world who have been on this journey with us, but it is far from over yet, hang in there!