Betty the Balloon was launched over Nottingham to raise awareness for organ donation.
The idea behind the launch was to get people talking – and it certainly did that.
The branded balloon – funded by the Organ Donation Committee – made its inaugural flight yesterday (27 March), taking off from Forest Recreation Ground and flying over the Queen’s Medical Centre.
Skye Irvine-Berry, a specialist nurse in NUH’s Organ Donation Team said:
“We want to start that conversation about organ donation,”
“Some families like to release balloons when they lose a loved one or look up at the sky and stars.
The balloon is symbolic and we want our families to look up and remember the precious gift their loved one gave.”
Last week, 456,341 people living in Nottinghamshire were on the UK Organ Donor Register.
“The balloon is really bright and people won’t be able to miss it floating past,” said Skye.
“We hope people will talk to each other, make their decisions known or sign up on the organ donation register.”
Pilot Neil Humphries will be flying the balloon around 30 times in the next 12 months, with the Midlands Air Festival on 2 to 4 June at Alcester in Warwickshire, Bristol International Balloon Fiesta in August, and Chatsworth Country Fair in September already pencilled in.
“I’m aware of the work done by the organ donation and transplant teams at what is a very difficult time for families who are facing the loss of a loved one.
“Donating an organ gives new life to others that would otherwise be suffering. I am very happy to fly the flag (balloon) for the team.”
Dr Keith Girling is the Medical Director at Nottingham University Hospitals (NUH) NHS Trust.
He said: “As a Trust we are completely committed to organ donation and the amazing lifesaving work that is done by the generous decisions of individuals and families at incredibly difficult and challenging times.
“We absolutely hope that the highly visible nature of this balloon will prompt people to find out and talk about this more and we really look forward to hearing the stories that come from people seeing this balloon flying. We are very grateful to the organ donation committee for funding this tremendous project and making this possible.”
John Richardson is Assistant Director, Organ Donation at NHS Blood and Transplant.
“This is a remarkable initiative by NUH’s Organ Donation Committee.
“Almost 7,000 people in the UK are waiting for an organ transplant right now. Organ donors and their families – and the generous decision they make – give hope to those waiting for a life-saving transplant.
“It’s so important that each of us make a decision, register on the Organ Donor Register and share the decision with our loved ones.
“This balloon will go a long way to sharing the organ donation message and the life-saving difference it makes.”
Skye Irvine-Berry added: “If just one person signs the organ donation register and saves another person’s life, you just can’t put a price on that.”
“We’d also like to thank Nottingham City Council for all its support with the campaign launch.”
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