Once you've signed the register, it's vital you tell your friends and family that you want to be a donor and then have a conversation about their wishes, too. Letting them know what you want is a simple conversation to have and could make it an easier decision at a difficult time.
Heart transplants offer the best chance of long term survival for critically ill heart failure patients to recover and lead a full life, like mum Wendy Lingham.
'I thought I was going to die'
Wendy was 23 when she was diagnosed with post-partum dilated cardiomyopathy. She had just given birth to her son Josh, and was told that she had heart failure and would have to be put on medication.
“To be told at 23 years old was absolutely devastating. I thought I'd never get to see my son grow up because I was going to die."
Heart failure had profound effects on her life. She developed the symptoms of heart failure including breathlessness and exhaustion.
"I did feel guilty a lot of the time because I wasn't able to do the things other mothers were doing with their children. On a good day I could take him a few metres to a local park."
In February 2011, Wendy was assessed for a heart transplant. She was given just weeks to live, placed on the emergency list and received her transplant. The night before the operation she said her goodbyes to her best friend, mother, sister and son because she didn't know if she would wake up again. She spent two months in intensive care.
Now she has a completely new lease of life with her Josh. Last year she did a 25-mile bike ride for us and this year is planning to do another BHF 40-mile ride in York.
“I have got a life now; I am not a walking zombie like I was before," she said.
Organ donation facts
- Every year 1,000 people die in need of an organ
- Although 9 out of 10 people say they support organ donation, just 3 out of 10 are on the Organ Donor Register
- Every organ donor can go on to save as many as nine lives