Torbay Hospital worker in skydive for organ donation and Cystic Fibrosis
A LOCAL organ donation campaigner is taking part in a skydive alongside the Shadow Health Secretary to raise funds and awareness.
Chris Chalker, who works as a specialist practitioner in organ donation for NHS Blood and Transplant across several South West hospitals including Torbay Hospital, is doing the skydive with Andy Burnham MP and others.
The challenge came from the parents of Toby Hart, from Lancashire, who died in a cliff fall accident, aged 16, while on a family holiday in Cornwall last year.
Several people's lives have been improved because Toby was an organ donor.
Toby's father Graham has organised a skydive in honour of Toby and the fund set up in his name, Toby's Gift. The fund aims to raise awareness of organ donation and raise money for Cystic Fibrosis, a condition that affects one of Toby's friends, Cole Moores.
Graham, Cole and Cystic Fisbrosis Trust chief executive Ed Owent are among the others doing a skydive.
Chris is involved in the iLIVEiGIVE organ donation campaign started by South Devon Healthcare's organ donation committee.
The campaign, which is being adopted by many other NHS Trusts in the South West, aims to increase the number of people signing up to the organ donation register and to encourage people to share their feelings regarding organ donation with their loved ones.
Chris said: "I had the privilege of caring for Toby and helping his family support Toby's wish to become an organ donor and help others.
"The fact that Toby had spoken with his family is a shining example of how having that conversation makes it so much easier for loved ones to respect your wishes.
"I am terrified of heights, so the skydive is going to be quite the challenge, but I am absolutely honoured to be involved and really hope that in Toby's memory we can raise the profile of donation and get people thinking and chatting about their wishes."
Torbay Hospital chief executive Paula Vasco-Knight said: "I'm extremely proud of Chris for taking on this challenge, particularly considering his fear of heights.
"This skydive will help make the emotive subject of organ donation one which is openly discussed.
"My heart goes out to Graham and Sally Hart for their tragic loss but I hope they can gain some degree of comfort from the fact that, by being an organ donor, Toby has helped to improve other people's lives."
The Harts' local MP, Andy Burnham, said he was "completely honoured" to be asked to take part in the skydive.
He said: "I'd heard about what had happened to Toby and when his parents came to see me I just wanted to help out in any way I could. They have turned something tragic into something positive - what a fantastic cause."
The jump is set to take place on April 9 at Langar Airfield in Nottingham.
To sponsor the team's skydive for Toby's Gift and the Cystic Fibrosis Trust visit www.justgiving.com/Cole-Moores2.
For more information about organ donation visit www.organdonation.nhs.uk.