The Gift: Transforming Lives through Organ Donation is a new comic created by the NHS and the University of Dundee aims to get high-school age children and the wider public thinking about the gift of Organ Donation.
The comic will be launched to the public on Wednesday 5th September at Dundee Comics Creative Space, Unit 7 in the Vision Building at 7pm. This launch is timed to coincide with the NHS Organ Donation Week in Scotland on Monday 3rd September.
The 32 page book, inspired by the tragic death of a University lecturer’s son seven years ago, shares the heartfelt stories and life experiences of individual patients and their families those affected by organ and tissue donation.
The Gift was written by recipients of organ donation, the families of donors, and University of Dundee and NHS staff.
Mayra Crowe, a University of Dundee lecturer, said it was a pleasure to see her son Andrew’s story feature in The Gift:
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 meet courageous and selfless people. But a hard part of this is trying to explain to kids that unfortunately sometimes children 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’s thought about organ donation were but we did know what kind of loving person he was. Thanks to Andrew’s organ donation, 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. Now, I hope this comic will do the same.
And from Lynne Malley, Specialist Nurse Organ Donation with NHS Tayside:
Almost 600 people are waiting for an organ transplant in Scotland at the moment but there are not enough organs to meet these needs and 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 was published by UniVerse, at the University of Dundee, coordinated by GJRA Member Laura Findlay and produced by Rebecca Horner of Ink Pot Studio. 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, Catriona Laird, Letty Wilson, Helen Robinson, Megan Sinclair, Philip Vaughan and Norrie Millar.
The Gift is the latest in a series of educational comics designed by the University of Dundee’s Scottish Centre for Comics Studies, and produced by Ink Pot Studios, which is based in Dundee Comics Creative Space. It follows on the success of Fibromyalgia and Us (2017), which was downloaded over 12,000 times. Future projects from the University of Dundee’s comics department include comics on heart disease, Coeliac disease, suicide awareness, and disability rights.
Professor Christopher Murray, director of the Scottish Centre for Comics Studies notes that comics are a powerful medium for communicating such stories:
Comics present a visual narrative, and through the arrangement of sequential panels on a page, and the interaction of words and images, a compelling and engaging narrative can spring to life. The medium of comics relies on a combination of play and problem solving to engage the reader and are an excellent way to communicate complex information and subjective experiences in a relatively straightforward way.
In recent years autobiographical comics, many of them dealing with health and disability, have been critically acclaimed, and the research network Graphic Medicine is devoted to comics about health and medical issues. The University of Dundee hosted the annual Graphic Medicine conference in 2016, and this helped to prompt researchers in Comics Studies and various partners, including colleagues from Education and Social Work, Law, Nursing and Health Sciences, Life Sciences, and the Leverhulme Centre for Forensic Science, to work together to produce a series of comics that address important issues. The Scottish Centre for Comics Studies has also recently worked with The Brittle Bone Society, Sistema Scotland/Big Noise Douglas, and various other partners, to produce public information comics.
As Dr Laura Findlay, a researcher within the Scottish Centre for Comics Studies, and coordinator of this project adds: “we hope that The Gift helps promote the NHS Organ Donation week, and we extend our thanks and appreciation to all those who consulted on the project and helped create this comic”.
Those interested in organ donation can register to be a donor at www.weneedeverybody.org