THREE YEARS OF THE CAMPAIGN PROMOTING ORGAN DONATION IN SLOVAKIA
In April 2005, the Slovak transplant society launched an information campaign on organ donation and transplantations with a title „Seven lives“. The campaign aims to highlight the issue of transplantation and organ donations and raise awareness among experts and wide public while at the same time boosting voluntary donation and transplantation activity in Slovakia. Organ donation in case of a patient´s brain death can lead to saving life of several seriously ill people. It is the greatest testimony of a human generosity. The campaign is organised under the auspices of the Ministry of Health of the Slovak Republic. As part of the campaign, a great number of events are planned to take place.
EODD – 9. September 2017
The EDQM would like to highlight the recent Swisstransplant’s initiative to publish interviews with experts explaining why it is worth taking part in the EODD and why it is important to talk about organ donation. In addition the EODD video-clip can be found here: https://youtu.be/daxnY53fcnU
The EDQM Facebook account is live and open https://www.facebook.com/EDQMCouncilofEurope/.
Campaign in Slovakia “Sedem životov”
All the relevant information can be obtained on the website of the campaign: www.sedemzivotov.sk
The campaign was officially launched on April 14, 2015 with a press conference introducing the starting point of the campaign, its goals and objectives. Following on, appeal ads on the issue were broadcast free of charge on the top TV channels, featuring real-life patients with transplanted organs (liver, heart, lungs, and kidney).
The media coverage included dozens of articles and interviews with doctors and patients who support the goal of the campaign and regularly inform the public on the benefits of the organ donation and transplantation.
In autumn 2015, several Slovak showbiz celebrities stepped in to take part in the campaign. They became the popular faces of the project and its key slogan – “Become a donor and speak about it at home”, mainly via billboards installed in all major cities and towns of Slovakia. The billboards are situated close to hospitals, health care and shopping centres and schools. Over the period 2015 – 2016, we had installed a total of 400 billboards.
To spread the message of the campaign on radio, a radio appeal ad performing well-known actors was arranged and broadcast on the public and commercial radio channels.
Our patients and doctors regularly take part in TV and radio debates on the issue of organ donation. The positive effect of the “Seven lives” campaign could be observed already in 2015, with a total number of donors up by 33 percent and transplantations by 44 percent, as compared to the previous year. In total, there were 245 successful transplantations in Slovakia in 2015, the highest number in the country´s transplantation history.
The initial success of the campaign had motivated our decision to continue spreading its graceful message on the long-term basis.
A new TV appeal ad of 10 seconds was recorded to target the television audience.
We have also initiated a tradition of Advent soul mass for all the organ donors. It takes place at Saint Martin´s Cathedral in Bratislava.
The campaign has been actively supported by patient NGOs by organising various educative events. One of the most active of them is the “Gift of Life” charity, an association of patients before and after transplantation along with the Union of dialyse and transplantation patients. In cooperation with the “Gift of Life” we launched a project titled “Knowing more”, a series of debates with university students about organ donation and transplantation. We are supporting activities of patient organisations and we are actively involved in the “Summer Games of Transplantation Patients” – the annual event taking part in September in recreation-and sports centre of Zelená Voda.
The campaign has been supported by the top health insurance in Slovakia – Všeobecná zdravotná poisťovňa (VsZP) – with a financial donation for the billboard campaign and media coverage in its “Partnerstvo” magazine which is distributed in agency branches and selected ambulances.
In a bid to further raise public awareness of the issue and in agreement with a transplantation community from Hungary, we have taken over and dubbed in Slovak four of their education videos. They are available on the campaign´s website and on a social site page promoting the campaign.
The Facebook page of “Seven lives” was launched in early 2017 and we regularly update it with various posts and invite members of the Slovak public to express their opinion on the issue of organ donation and transplantation. We are pleased to see a great interest in the site and its huge followership – we had gained almost 6000 regular followers within five months.
In May 2017, we launched a touring exhibition of artistic photos by patients before and after transplantation of various organs (heart, lung, liver, and kidney) – as pictured by professional photographer Jena Šimková. As part of the exhibition, there were information panels about organ donation and transplantations.
The exhibition was installed in one of the key shopping centres in the Slovakia´s capital of Bratislava and over the year it will travel to the key four Slovak transplantation centres: University hospital in Bratislava – L. Derer hospital at Kramare, Rooseevelt hospital in Banská Bystrica, University hospital in Martin, University hospital in Košice. It will also be displayed at the Ministry of health SR and the National Council of the Slovak Republic.
In June 2017, we arranged the third TV ad featuring the Slovak showbiz celebrities, with the first release planned for September 2017 on the Slovak public TV (RTVS).
By a determined communication and using various informative and educative activities for experts and wide public, we have managed to open a lively debate on a previously highly tabooed and sensitive topic in Slovakia. Over a bit more than two years, we have achieved to change many people´s view of organ donation and transplantations. We are aware of the long and tough way ahead of us in this area but we are greatly inspired by states such as Spain and Croatia and ready to continue the Seven lives campaign for raising the public awareness of organ donation and transplantations. The main reason and motivation behind our effort is the seven rescued human lives behind every single donor, the seven patients who are waiting for transplantation as their only hope to survive.