Card and gift retailer raises the profile of organ donation

Yesterday it was revealed that a record number of people donated organs in the UK last year, and one independent card retailer has made it his mission to continue this upward trend.

Richard running to get the word out about organ donation.
Richard running to get the word out about organ donation.

Richard Aylett, co-owner of The Card House and Balloon Room in Ashton-in-Makerfield and Balloon World party wholesaler is readying himself for the imminent Nashville Marathon, one of 100 marathons he will run this year. On his running bib will be the words ‘Donors Rock’ – part of his quest to raise awareness of the importance of organ donation. Richard has good reason to put his best foot forward with these physical challenges as his own life was saved as a result of a young man having had the foresight to sign up as an organ donor.

A couple of years ago Richard had severe liver failure and was on the verge of leaving hospital to go home to die when the call came that a donor match had been found. The transplant was a success and since then Richard has combined running his card and party businesses with running marathons to raise awareness and inspire and motivate others.

Richard’s partner Cath and some of the Card House and Balloon Room team outside the shop.
Richard’s partner Cath and some of the Card House and Balloon Room team outside the shop.

“It’s a strange feeling hoping someone dies so that you can live. It is something I struggled with for a while before, in part, coming to terms with it,” says Richard. “But that said never a day goes by when I don’t think of my donor and his family. However, let’s be honest how can I ever forget, as every time I get dressed or undressed I have this scar that stares right at me, telling me how lucky I am. It inspires me to be a better person, it encourages me to help others, but most of all it tells me to go out there and live!”

Richard Aylett pre-transplant (left) and Richard post-transplant, fit and healthy.
Richard Aylett pre-transplant (left) and Richard post-transplant, fit and healthy.

As part of his urge to ‘give back’ Richard has just established a programme at his Balloon World party wholesale business whereby all of the staff receive a paid day off each month to do charity work of their choice. “There is a lot to be said for feeling lucky for what you have and to pay it forward,” says Richard.

Although Richard was obviously pleased to read the latest figures just revealed by the NHS that there was 11% increase in organ donation in the last year (amounting to 1,575 donors), he says there is room for improvement. “On average 20 new people are added to the organ donation waiting list each day. Unfortunately the majority of these patients will die before receiving a transplant, but as I know, they all live in hope.”

Donor campaigner Jim Lynskey.
Donor campaigner Jim Lynskey.

Richard was among those to respond to a plea from 22-year-old Jim Lynskey who has a rare heart condition and is on the waiting list for a heart transplant. The young man is raising money for his Save9Lives campaign and The British Heart Foundation – see event details here: bit.ly/BHFS9L. He contacted the GCA to ask for a few ‘Just to Say’ or ‘Thank you’ cards for that he can pass onto those who are helping him run the event. In addition to those being sent by Richard, The Art File and UKG were among those to send Jim some cards.

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