IT is a quest which can make the difference between life and death – and it has had an incredible start.

A month to the day after The Press launched its Lifesavers, more than 1,000 people have answered our call to help.

We are aiming to secure the support of 20,000 people across York and North and East Yorkshire in joining the Organ Donor Register by the end of this year – a move which will spare so many families the heartache of losing a loved one.

New figures now show 1,220 people from this region have signed up since the organ donation drive began exactly one month ago.

Across our circulation area, 245,326 people are now on the NHS Organ Donor Register – but despite this astonishing instant response, we still need more people to sign up and save somebody’s life.

Craig Taylor, spokesman for NHS Blood and Transplant, said the number who have added their names to the register since the launch is a fantastic achievement, and has called on others to follow their example and help the campaign reach its vital goal.

“Readers of The Press have shown great commitment to organ donation by joining the NHS organ donor register since the start of the campaign – if you’ve signed up, thank you,” he said.

“But there is still an urgent need for those who believe in organ donation to act now.

“By joining you will be offering hope to those who are waiting for a life changing transplant.

“Make it one of your 2010 New Year’s resolutions.”

Our campaign – inspired by 22-year-old Miss York finalist and cystic fibrosis sufferer Emma Young who died whilst awaiting a double lung transplant – aims to ease the agony for thousands of people on the UK organ donor transplant list.

There are currently 81 people waiting for a transplant in our circulation area.

Of those, 62 need a kidney; a further three people are awaiting a kidney and pancreas, six people are awaiting a heart, three people are awaiting a liver, six people need a new lung and one person needs a new pancreas.

Since April, 68 people have received a transplant – but in this time four other have died awaiting a lifesaving organ to be donated.

Joanne Turner, donor transplant co-ordinator at York Hospital, said: “If you are thinking about organ donation or support the idea, show it and put your name on the register.”

Steve Hughes, managing editor of The Press, said: “This is an impressive start to the campaign, especially over the busy festive period. “Having an extra 1,220 people on the Organ Donor Register means more families will be spared the needless agony of losing a loved one due to a lack of suitable donors.

“Now we need to use this as a springboard and make 2010 a landmark year for organ donation in our region."

York City fans show their support

FOOTBALL fans were encouraged to sign up to the Organ Donor Register when forms were handed out at York City’s ground.

The promotions drive took place ahead of City’s Blue Square Premier match at home to Mansfield on Boxing Day, and the cause was also publicised in the match programme.

The event was organised by family and friends of Sam Sinclair, a local 19-year-old woman who died in November, following diabetes complications. Simon Mallett, one of those who organised the hand-out, said beforehand: “I just thought this would be a nice thing to do.”

How you can join the register

You can join the NHS Organ Donor Register by:

• Going online at

• Phoning the 24-hour donor line on 0300 123 23 23.

• Texting SAVE to 84118.

You can also join when you:

• Register for a driving licence.

• Register at a GP surgery.

• Register for a European Health Insurance Card. (EHIC)

• Apply for a Boots Advantage card.

• Leaflets have also been sent to every shop or outlet that sells The Press, and are also displayed in GPs surgeries, libraries and many hospitals and pharmacies.