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Global tree charity to support organ donor “crisis”

 

Press release

Embargoed Release, 1am September 21, 2011.

PATT asked to join journey to support one of the youngest transplant patients in the world – and help give young lives a second chance

THEY may be over 6,000 miles part – but two families are hoping to plant the seeds of hope to help save a young child’s life.

Founder of the Plant A Tree Today (PATT) Foundation and Charity Andrew Steel was asked to help highlight the desperate need for organ donors globally – and support the cause of one of the youngest liver transplant patients in the world.

It comes after little Lottie Bryon-Edmond – known as ‘Chip’ – had been critically-ill since birth because of a rare liver disorder. Lottie was born on July 06, 2011 in Torbay Hospital and was moved to Exeter, then to Bristol. She is now in Birmingham Children’s Hospital intensive care unit. Specialists diagnosed Lottie with Neonatal Hemochromatosis, a rare, unexplained and severe liver disease caused by toxic amounts of iron in the baby’s liver.

After an agonising wait, just weeks ago her life was saved by a last-minute organ donor. Her parents, Chris and Julie said the life-saving operation had been ‘miraculous’. Her family has now launched the ChipBE campaign to raise awareness of the lack of organ donors on the British register.

Lottie had to wait for weeks, despite being at the top of a ‘super’ urgent transplant list. It became apparent to the family there was a world donor shortage. In Britain, only a quarter of 62 million people agree to become an organ donor. This figure is still reliant on what relatives say after a loved one’s death.

Organisers of Lottie’s campaign ChipBE – which is making national headlines – approached the Charity to plant a tree on behalf of Lottie in Thailand. The aim is to plant “a seed of hope to raise awareness” of the world shortfall in registered organ donors. Organisers have also asked the charity to help highlight the emotive cause to get an extra one million people to sign up as donors; they don’t want families to go through the same “rollercoaster nightmare” they faced.

Lottie’s father Chris, from Torquay, said: “The Plant A Tree Today Foundation is about global issues, just as the shortfall in organ donations is an international crisis.

“Lottie was born with a near-tragic liver disease. We were told that because of the shortfall in organ donations, she was unlikely to receive a liver in time. We wanted to use whatever national and international channels possible to raise awareness of the global problem.

“It’s hard to manage the emotions behind becoming a family free from those fears and the knowledge that sadly somewhere a child that has passed away has given life in their brief journey. But words cannot express how very thankful we are to the parents of the donor who made such a life-saving decision.”

He added: “My daughter was incredibly fortunate. She is one of the youngest and smallest babies in the world to undergo a liver transplant and thanks to a huge number of people is getting steadily better. “It’s simple to register in the UK and only takes a minute to click to the transplant website – but say ChipBE sent you!”

Following the eight-hour operation, Lottie is now doing well, although she will be kept in Birmingham Children’s Hospital, where the transplant took place, monitored by up to 20 doctors and specialists until her condition stabilises. Chris and Julie hope to bring her back home in mid-October.

Hull-born businessman Mr Steel, 40, has pledged his support. “As a family man I can only just begin to emphasise with what Lottie’s family have gone through. I took my children down to one of our tree nurseries in Khao Yai National Park, Thailand and together we planted a tree for Lottie. It was very moving as it brought home how very lucky we are as a family – and how important it is to register as a donor.”

Mr Steel said a plaque – written in English and Thai – will be placed alongside the tree to help highlight the cause and ensure local schools, families, businesses and visitors can see first- hand how to get involved.

PATT, a United Nations Seed Award winner, aims to plant more than one million trees in a fight against climate change and poverty.

PATT Communications Director Christopher Parker – based in Hull – said: “It was humbling to have been approached by Lottie’s family to help raise awareness.

“Our charity work is based on improving the lives for future generations; we had no hesitation in lending our support – and reaching out to our supporters, which ultimately could save a young person’s life.”

For more information on the campaign, please visit www.chipbe.com or to become registered as an organ donor, please visit www.uktransplant.org.uk (and say ChipBE sent you).

ENDS.

Contacts:

For more information about Andrew Steel, or to arrange an interview, contact Christopher Parker of the PATT Foundation on 07875 155892 or visit www.pattfoundation.org.

For more information on ChipBE, please contact Mark McCoy on 07717 663236 or Brydgette Bryon-Edmond on (01672) 540100 or 07841 054443.

Image 1 AS Family Thailand: PATT Founder Andrew Steel pictured with his two children Lauryn, aged 11 and Oliver aged 8 planting a Cassia fistula tree for little Lottie.

Image 2 Little Lottie and Family: Chris and Julie Bryon-Edmond with Lottie – known as Chip.

Notes to editors:

Set up in 2005, the Plant A Tree Today Foundation and UK Charity aims to tackle climate change by planting native trees, reforesting areas which have been destroyed through illegal logging, development and agriculture – and is responsible for huge replanting schemes in Thailand, India and South Africa.