NHS Launches Campaign to Boost Paediatric Organ Donation Awareness
Wunderman Thompson UK and NHS Blood and Transplant launch life-saving organ donation campaign for children waiting for organ transplants
11 September 2023
The NHS' blood and transplant division has unveiled a campaign that aims to increase awareness and support for paediatric organ donation sign ups, in support of agency colleague and her family, who are currently facing the desperate wait for a transplant for their young son.
Integrated marketing agency, Wunderman Thompson UK, reached out to NHS Blood and Transplant after learning about colleague, Katie’s situation. Katie and her husband, Graham, have a three-year-old son, Ralph, who is currently battling a rare liver cancer.
After being diagnosed in January and undergoing eight cycles of chemotherapy, Ralph’s best option for survival is a multi-organ transplant. He is currently on the waiting list for this life-saving gift but his family fear that a suitable donor may not be found in time to save his life.
In the UK, families will always be asked to give their consent in order for organ donation from a child to go ahead. However, in 2021/22, only 52 per cent of families gave consent for their child’s organs to be donated. This resulted in a total of just 40 organ donors under the age of 18, compared to the 243 children who are currently waiting for a transplant. In cases where a child was already registered on the NHS Organ Donor Register, no family went against this already considered decision to support donation.
While recent medical advances offer hope to families whose children need complex medical conditions, we need more family to consider organ donation. For some children, like Ralph, on the waiting list, a young donor is their only hope.
To help shift attitudes and increase support, the team at Wunderman Thompson UK have put their skills to good use and developed a campaign, named ‘Consider This’, which will shine a spotlight on the experience of Ralph, his family, the lifesaving impact of considering paediatric organ donation and the importance of registering an organ donation decision.
The first phase will launch on 4 September, ahead of NHS Organ Donation Awareness Week (18 – 24 September) and return to school. It aims to reach families, raise awareness, drive conversation and encourage parents across the UK to consider organ donation and confirm their family’s decision to be donors on the NHS Organ Donor Register.
The campaign will launch across radio, print and out-of-home, with highly emotive ads which capture the pain of waiting for a life-saving transplant, while encouraging people to have perspective when they get frustrated by waiting in their day-to-day life. Each ad highlights the life changing impact that agreeing to child organ donation can have and appeals to listeners to consider and search ‘NHS organ donation’ to find out more. The radio ads are bravely voiced by Ralph’s mother, Katie.
In one of the radio ads, Katie said: "While his friends get ready to start nursery school, my three-year-old son Ralph is waiting. Other mums will be packing their rucksacks and ironing their outfits, but my son Ralph is still waiting. His friends will be having their breakfast and fastening their shiny new shoes, but my son Ralph is waiting. They’ll be off out the door, excited for their first day of nursery school. But my son Ralph is still waiting, for a multi organ transplant."
Radio ads will go live the first week children return to school and during peak school and nursery run times, as parents get back into their term-time routines, to ensure optimum reach.
Print ads will feature in national newspapers including The Times, The Telegraph, The Metro, Daily Mail and Daily Mirror. They play on the everyday instances of waiting – children waiting for their birthday, Christmas, or an ice cream – and contrast it with the extraordinary situation that those children waiting for a lifesaving transplant find themselves in. They further enforce the intended message asking parents to consider organ donation with lines such as, “Some kids can’t wait for Christmas. Others can’t wait for a new heart. Please consider child organ donation. Just registering could help shorten the wait for children in desperate need.”
The ads will also run across out-of-home at high traffic sites across Birmingham, Glasgow, Manchester, Southampton and London, including the iconic Westfield site.
Media support for the campaign has been provided by Wavemaker, Bauer and Global.
Angie Scales, NHS Blood and Transplant Lead nurse for Paediatric Donation, added: “For many children on the transplant waiting list, their only hope is the parent of another child saying 'yes' to organ donation at a time of immense sadness and personal grief, yet, families tell us that agreeing to organ donation can also be a source of great comfort and pride.
“We ask that families take a moment today to consider and confirm their support for organ donation, so it is not something you have to consider and discuss for the first time should the unthinkable happen. We also know that many children respond positively to the idea of organ donation, so this is something which can be discussed in a simple way by the whole family.
“With more people confirming their support for organ donation on the NHS Organ Donor Register, we hope to be able to save more lives of children like Ralph, both today and in the future.”
Katie and Graham said: “Donating a child or loved one’s organ is such a brave and incredible gift, yet the number of child donors in the UK is still so low. Our hope with this campaign is to not only raise awareness, but to get people to consider their decision now rather than at the worst time. Consenting is not a theoretical good deed – it will literally save a life, or multiple lives of children, in desperate situations right now.”
Chermine Assadian, Creative Director at Wunderman Thompson UK, added: “Within the industry we often always say advertising doesn’t save lives. Well, in this case, we hope and pray it will. This is the most difficult and overwhelming brief I’ve ever worked on, but when we heard about the situation we didn’t hesitate. There's an urgent need to create a national debate, getting more parents to have the difficult conversation and ultimately register their children as organ donors. All our energy and our thoughts are behind Katie, Graham and Ralph."
Wunderman Thompson is currently producing a second phase of the campaign which will launch later this year.
Executive Creative Director – Tom Drew
Creative Director – Chermine Assadian
Senior Creative team – Charli Plant and Laura Saraiva
Creative team – Will Simpson & Rowan Hopkins
Business Lead – Helen Lee
Senior Strategist – Bishan Morgan
Senior Strategist – James Treen
Senior HR Business Partner – Vicki Galbraith
Business Director – Harriet Buchanan
Senior Account Manager – Kat Sarantopoulou
Programme Director – Danny Baylis
Project Manager – Yasmine Tawil
Head of Art & Design – Guy Sexty
Head of Production – Bella Danon
Senior Creative Producer – Tom Lawrence
Senior Producer – Sara Blackett
Senior Producer – Claire Proudfoot
Lead Designer – Jacqui Stecher
Senior Designer – Sandra Hiralal
Senior Designer – Darren Rackham
Creative Artworker: Chrissy Carr
PR partner – BCW
Media partner – Wavemaker
Sound Studio – Grand Central Sound Studios
Sound Engineer – Tom Keats