Transplant girl's story leads to a surge in donors

A girl of six given a new heart when she had only hours to live said yesterday she had had enough of hospital and wanted to get home to her friends, her family and her toys.

Sally Slater, whose plight moved the nation as she lay amid tubes and wires awaiting a transplant, demonstrated as only a six-year-old can that she was in the land of the living.

Facing the cameras for the first time since the operation, with her relieved parents at her side, she said she was looking forward to seeing her two brothers, eating her beloved carrot cake and playing with her aunt's dog called Fudge. She goes home this weekend.

Then she told a favourite tale of how her brother, Charlie, once put Fudge in the washing machine. "That was really funny," she said.

Six weeks ago, her parents' dramatic appeal for a spare heart to save her projected the image of her tiny prone body on to front pages. Sally had come into the Freeman hospital in Newcastle upon Tyne with a virus. Doctors discovered it had attacked her heart muscle and a transplant was her only hope.

Her parents, deciding the media offered the best chance of finding a donor, invited the cameras in to record her desperate plight. A heart was found through the wave of publicity and the organ donor scheme was highlighted.

Yesterday, Jon Slater, Sally's father, thanked the hospital's staff and the family of the donor for saving his daughter.

"Without that amazing gift this would never have happened, and the story would be very different," said the 36-year-old financial adviser.

The Sun newspaper took up the issue of the organ donor shortage and ran it for a week, printing a cut-out-and-keep donor card for 12 million readers. TV and radio discussed the "opt-out" donor scheme in parts of Europe, and Scottish papers organised a public poll.

The British Transplant Society said figures for the first three months of the year showed a 16 per cent increase in donors across the UK, compared with 168 in the similar period last year.

John Forsyth, a transplant surgeon in Edinburgh and secretary of the society, said: "The parents of this young girl were phenomenal. I listened to Sally's father and he put over difficult and sensitive issues in an articulate and sensible manner. He has been an ambassador for transplantation.

"It is the impression of people involved in transplantation that the increased publicity around the subject and particularly this story which touched the hearts of many has encouraged discussion and raised awareness which may have led to the increase in donors."

The health department said even bad publicity seemed to be good for donation, so long as the issue was in the public eye. More than one million extra people had joined the organ donor register since last year, lifting the total to 8.7 million, partly fuelled by the scandal disclosed last summer of the family that imposed racist conditions on the transplant of organs from a dead relative.

Publicity surrounding Sally Slater and the lottery winner who said he would exchange his £4.1m windfall for a new kidney had caused a further upsurge in the numbers. "There is still a shortage of organs and we need more people to sign up but we are making tremendous progress," said a department spokeswoman.

"That is partly due to the efforts of Sally Slater's family."

John Travolta is a qualified airline captain and employed the pilot with his company, Alto
people'That was the lowest I’d ever felt'
Life and Style
healthIt isn’t greasy. It doesn’t smell. And moreover, it costs nothing

Other places that have held independence referendums
Life and Style

Olympic diver has made his modelling debut for Adidas

Life and Style
ebooksA superb mix of recipes serving up the freshest of local produce in a delicious range of styles
Life and Style
ebooksFrom the lifespan of a slug to the distance to the Sun: answers to 500 questions from readers
Arts and Entertainment
Blossoming love: Colin Firth as Stanley and Emma Stone as Sophie, in 'Magic in the Moonlight'

Actors star in Woody Allen's 'Magic in the Moonlight'

peopleThe Times of India said actress should treat it as a 'compliment'
Arts and Entertainment
Maxine Peake plays Hamlet at Manchester's Royal Exchange
theatreReview: Maxine Peake brings emotional ferocity to Shakespeare's most starring part

Watch this commuter wage a one-man war against the Circle Line
We are phenomenally good at recognising faces; the study showed that humans have been selected to be unique and easily recognisable

Human faces unique 'because we don't recognise each other by smell'

Home body: Badger stays safe indoors
lifeShould we feel guilty about keeping cats inside?
Jonas Gutierrez (r) competes with Yaya Toure (l)

Newcastle winger reveals he has testicular cancer - and is losing his trademark long hair as a result

A male driver reverses his Vauxhall Astra from a tow truck

Man's attempt to avoid being impounded heavily criticised

Arts and Entertainment
US pop diva Jennifer Lopez sang “Happy Birthday” to Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedow, president of Turkmenistan
musicCorporate gigs become key source of musicians' income
Arts and Entertainment
While many films were released, few managed to match the success of James Bond blockbuster 'Skyfall'
filmsDaniel Craig believed to be donning skis as 007 for first time
The Guildhall School of Music and Drama is to offer a BA degree in Performance and Creative Enterprise

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Modern Foreign Languages Teacher

    Competitive Salary: Randstad Education Group: We URGENTLY require qualified an...

    IT Portfolio Analyst - Prince2

    £45000 - £50000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client, a glob...

    Project Co-ordinator - Birmingham - Permanant

    £20000 - £25000 Per Annum Plus excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions...

    Head of Maths

    Negotiable: Randstad Education Group: Head of Maths position at a prestigious ...

    Day In a Page

    Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

    A shot in the dark

    Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
    His life, the universe and everything

    His life, the universe and everything

    New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
    Reach for the skies

    Reach for the skies

    From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
    These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

    12 best hotel spas in the UK

    Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
    These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

    Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

    Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
    Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

    Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

    Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
    How to make a Lego masterpiece

    How to make a Lego masterpiece

    Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
    Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

    Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

    Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
    Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

    Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

    His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
    'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

    'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

    Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
    Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

    Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

    The Imitation Game, film review
    England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

    England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

    Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
    Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

    Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

    Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
    ‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

    ‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

    Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week