1. ITV Report

From the Heart: Behind the scenes at an organ donation

In the fifth and final part of my special reports for ITV's 'From the Heart' campaign, I was given amazing access to the transplant unit at Manchester Royal Infirmary- the busiest renal transplant programme in the UK.

The idea was to look behind the scenes at exactly what happens when a transplant takes place, from the moment that question is asked of the donor's family to the transplant itself and the difference it makes to the recipient.

Peter Hartley Credit: ITV Granada

It was such a privilege to be allowed to film the actual operation, an operation that Peter Hartley had waited years for. Diagnosed with kidney failure, his life has been on hold while he's been on the waiting list - having to go on dialysis five days a week.

I met Paula Watson, a specialist nurse in organ donation also known as a SNOD nurse. She perhaps has the most difficult job of all. She must approach the family of someone who dies to ask that question about whether they want to donate their loved ones' organs. But as she told me, it's actually the most rewarding job she could do.

Mel Barham with Paula Watson Credit: ITV Granada

Despite the terrible grief that the relatives feel, many say they gain so much comfort from knowing that their loved ones' organs will help save the lives of others. She described it as a 'crumb of hope' that she's able to give to the relatives at their darkest hour.

I'd never thought of the people who's job it is to transport the organs from the donor's hospital to where the recipient is, but then I met Bob Farish - an ambulance driver who told me its the most rewarding thing he's ever done.

Bob Farish Credit: ITV Granada

"To realise you've got a life for somebody in the boot of your car is very emotional."

– Bob Farish, ambulance driver

And then of course there are the team at the recipient hospital. The transplant coordinator, the surgeon and the nurses, along with lab technicians and theatre staff. They all play their part in helping to save lives. But we are perhaps the most important in that equation.

It is us who need to sign up to the donor register to enable any of this to happen. Over this last week, the number of people signing up to the organ donor register has risen dramatically. But more still need to.

If it was you who needed a transplant or your family, would you accept an organ? If you would, think about signing up. You could help save lives, and as I've seen so movingly over the past week, it is possibly the greatest thing you could ever do. It's quick and easy to sign up, just go to itv.com/fromtheheart

I've signed up, have you?

More on this story