Families in Essex are being urged to sign up and become an organ donor over Christmas to help those urgently waiting for a life-saving transplant.

According to NHS Blood and Transplant, 118 people across the county are waiting organ donation, along with 6,186 people in the UK.

Over 180 children are also awaiting a life-saving gift.

Julie Bartlett, aged 58, from Nazeing has been waiting for a heart transplant for nearly three years, and has been on the urgent list for 300 days as of yesterday (Tuesday, December 3).

She said: “Waiting for the call is the toughest thing I’ve ever had to endure in my life.

“You just can’t explain what it’s like being apart from family and friends, my sausage dogs and my home and home comforts like my bed and home cooked meals for so long.

“It impacts every moment of every day and night, as you constantly and desperately expect the transplant coordinator will come bearing news.

“I spent Christmas 2016 here in hospital recovering from my Ventricular Assist Device surgery but last Christmas was my twin grandsons first Christmas and that was a blessing.”

Epping Forest Guardian:

Julie Barlett, from Nazeing, has been waiting for a organ donation for over 300 days

From spring 2020 in England and Autumn 2020 in Scotland, the law around organ donation is changing.

All adults in Essex will be considered as having agreed to donate their own organs when they die unless they record a decision not to donate, known as ‘opt out’.

This law was introduced in Wales in December 2015 and in Jersey in July this year.

Mrs Barlett added: “A transplant would give me my life back again, I have so many plans for the future with my family and friends. At the moment it feels like my life is on pause.

“Also hope to travel and visit my son and granddaughter in Australia, I haven’t seen her since her first birthday. I can’t do any of those things now, I can’t even go outside the hospital.

“My hope for 2020 is the start of my new life in a new decade. Free of heart failure and mechanical gadgets of which I have been most grateful.”

Anthony Clarkson, director of organ donation and Transplantation at NHS Blood and Transplant, said: “Christmas is an incredibly busy time of year, however away from the rush and bustle of preparing for the holiday it should also be a time for family and thinking of others.

“We are urging everyone in Essex to take a moment to think about the people who will spend their Christmas hoping for just one thing; a life saving organ transplant. Would you like to help if you could? If you needed a transplant, would you want someone to donate to you?”

Harefield Hospital’s director of transplantation Andre Simon said: "On the transplant unit at Harefield Hospital we frequently see how a person's life can be completely transformed through the gift of organ donation.

“Discussing organ donation with families and loved ones could mean the difference between life and death for someone on the transplant waiting list.

“We encourage everyone to make a new year’s resolution to have these conversations and to sign the organ donor register, so we can help more patients like Julie.”

To find out more look out for the new TV advert, which explains more about the law changing in England next year and launches over Christmas.

Visit www.organdonation.nhs.uk, for more information and join the NHS Organ Donor Register.