A WORCESTER fund-raiser is among a group of friends who will tackle a marathon challenge in memory of a brave young man who started a campaign highlighting the desperate need for organ donors.
Lauren Knowles, together with friends, has set up a 9 Marathon Challenge in memory of Jim Lynskey from Studley who died last month aged just 23 while waiting for a heart transplant.
He and his twin sister Grace caught meningitis when they were two weeks old.
But while Grace made a full recovery, Jim was left with an enlarged and weakened heart to the extent that when he died he was reliant on a battery powered machine to pump blood around his body.
However he was energised by the discovery that one person can donate enough organs to save or enhance the lives of nine people.
Inspired, he set up the campaign Save9Lives, encouraging people to talk about organ donation and the benefits it can bring to others even at the darkest time.
It led to him working with Lewis Capaldi on the music video for ‘Someone You Loved’ and becoming the inspiration of Susan Lewis’ bestselling novel, One Minute Later.
“Organ donation is such a taboo subject and we want to raise awareness of it and get people talking about it,” Lauren said.
“With the support of his wonderful family and friends, I have started ‘Jim’s 9 Marathon Challenge’, where we are attempting to run the distance of nine marathons (234 miles) by October 20 – Jim’s 24th birthday.
“It doesn’t matter if people run, walk, cycle, skip or crawl; if you are willing to support me and keep Save9Lives going, then you are already helping us achieve what we set out to do.
“Already 40 people – from as far afield as London and Scarborough as well as locally – have signed up and the distance can be covered in segments a mile at a time if people want.”
To take part in Jim’s 9 Marathon Challenge, e-mail Lauren at [email protected]
Visit www.facebook.com/groups/929694834029275/ for more.
To become an organ donor visit www.organdonation.nhs.uk/register-to-donate/
AS of June 13 there were 6,100 people waiting for an organ transplant in the UK.
Jim’s mum Collette said: “Jim was the kindest person you could ever chance to meet and there were 500 people in tears at his funeral.
“We’re trying our best to keep his message going and it’s become more important now I have been in the position of being asked ‘can we have the organs of someone who is about to pass away’.
“The law is changing in 2020 to an assumption of granting organ donations, but relatives can still opt out as someone passes away.
“There are too many organs being lost when it comes to the crunch and I know that those who did says no have often regretted it while those who say yes feel a little good has come from it all.
“It’s important to have that conversation with your loved ones.”
Anthony Clarkson, director of Organ Donation and Transplantation for NHS Blood and Transplant, said: “Organ donation is, and always will be, a precious gift.
“We want everyone to know the law around organ donation is changing, to understand how it is changing and the choices available to them. We want them to make their organ donation decision and to share that decision with their family.
“While eight in ten people in England tell us they definitely want to donate or would consider donating, only just over a third of adults have told their partner or family that they want to donate their organs after they die. Regardless of the organ donation decision you make, the most important thing is to make sure your family are aware of your decision.
“We hope that by increasing awareness and understanding of organ donation, we can inspire more individuals and families to agree to donation and allow many more lives to be saved.”