Working in east London, I see a lot of helicopters. If it’s not the police on a mission, it’s likely to be the air ambulance delivering an urgent case to the Royal London hospital or returning to base there. London’s had an air ambulance service since 1989.
One day, on my way to work near Euston I was passing through Gordon Square Gardens when I heard a helicopter close by. To my surprise, it was an air ambulance and it landed in the square. This is not one of London’s larger squares! A chap jumped out then carefully took a large box out and handed it over to some folks on the ground who took the box to a nearby emergency car and raced off in the direction of Great Ormond Street Hospital.
A few weeks ago, I saw a military helicopter land in Victoria Park while I was out running. They land there as part of an exercise that pilots undertake during their training. They did a couple of circuits around the park and neighbourhood, then landed. After a few minutes they were off again.
Today, as my colleague and I were running through Victoria Park we heard a helicopter. It was taking off from a field in the eastern section, with a police van and an ambulance car in attendance. My presumption was that it was another organ transfer or something similar.
The movement of organs around the country is time critical. Despite there being a national register, which anyone can join, only 1,200 donations are made each year. We have one of the lowest donation rates in Europe and around 1,000 people die each year waiting in vain for a transplant. When you die, you have the opportunity to save the lives of up to 9 other people by donating your organs.
If you haven’t already done so, sign up today. It will only take a few minutes. And let your loved ones know of your intentions. Although its hard to talk about death, you’ll also be talking about giving the most precious of gifts – life.
Janathon stats: 5.2km in 27:30 and 4,000 steps.
Lorelei Hill on waiting for a heart transplant
Ian Mansfield on the 25th anniversary of the London Air Ambulance, just a few days ago