Organ donation campaigner with mechanical heart inspires Ipswich school pupils

Jim Lynskey during his visit to St Matthew�s Church of England Primary School in Ipswich Picture: SA

Jim Lynskey during his visit to St Matthew�s Church of England Primary School in Ipswich Picture: SALLY STAPLETON - Credit: SALLY STAPLETON

A young campaigner with a mechanical heart has visited an Ipswich school to talk about the importance of organ donation.

Jim Lynskey, 22, has been living with the artificial pump for three years while he waits for a donor heart to become available for a transplant.

He has since started a campaign called Save9Lives, to encourage people to sign up to the donor register and to tell their families about their wishes.

Mr Lynskey, from Birmingham, has recently taken a trip to St Matthew’s Church of England Primary School in Ipswich to help educate pupils about the issue.

The visit was organised by Year 6 teacher Angela Snowden after she saw Mr Lynskey telling his story on the television.

The children researched Mr Lynskey and they wrote him letters asking him questions as part of their studies on the heart and circulatory system.

Mrs Snowden sent the letters to Mr Lynskey, and when he read them he offered to visit the school to answer their queries in person.

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After catching a virus at birth, Mr Lynskey developed a condition dilated cardiomyopathy, which means he has an enlarged heart.

He has suffered three cardiac arrests.

In 2015 he joined the transplant list and had to have the mechanical pump fitted to keep him alive until he can get a new heart.

He said: “Three years, although it doesn’t sound like ages, is quite uncommon for someone so young to wait that long because I’m a reasonable match to most hearts of my size and weight and blood type but I’m trying to do my best to improve the chances for not just myself but for all those waiting for an organ of any type.”

Save9Lives is now gaining momentum and Mr Lynskey is determined to spread the message far and wide – that one donor can save or transform the lives of nine people.

Reflecting on his visit to St Matthew’s, Mr Lynskey said: “The children were really fascinated by my situation and the campaign. It’s really exciting and refreshing to be involved so I’m really honoured.”

Ahead of the event, the school raised £274 for Save9Lives through a non-uniform day, and also organised a competition to promote the campaign.

Mrs Snowden said the children from Reception to Year 6 were “enthralled” to hear from Mr Lynskey and they asked sensible questions.

She added: “It truly was an inspirational day and Jim is an amazing young man using his situation to create awareness of the situation facing organ donation in the UK.”

More information on Save9Lives is available on the website and social media.