There’s a new children’s book hitting the market about the wonders of organ donation. Mark Ainscough, a father and an ICU nurse at the Wrightington, Wigan and Leigh Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (WWL) in the U.K., wrote the book under his pen name “Mark James” to make it easier for parents and providers to introduce the topic to children, including those with sick parents and young patients in need of life-saving organs. The book may also spark an interest in health and medicine among kids, so they grow up to be organ donors themselves.
The book is called “Freddie and the Magic Heart,” which tells the story of a young boy who decides to donate his mother’s organs, or “recycled parts,” to patients in need once he finds out she is dying. It might sound sad, but it comes with a positive message and colorful illustrations by artist Lulu McWilliams that showcase the power of such a selfless act.
“Often, people don’t think too much about organ donation until they are confronted with it in terrible circumstances,” Ainscough told Wigan Today. “I tried to imagine how hard it would be to communicate this to a child and felt that it would be beneficial to have a children’s book that was engaging and fun to read about organ donation.”
He accomplished his dream of becoming a published author after raising over $2,240 on a U.K. crowdfunding platform. The NHS Blood and Transplant Organ Donation Committee matched the donation to help with printing costs.
“I have seen how organ donation can be a difficult subject to talk about, and for young children to understand. I wanted to write a children’s book that they could read with their family members that explained a little bit about organ donation and how it can bring something positive from a negative,” the ICU nurse wrote.
Vikki Lloyd, a specialist nurse for organ donation for NHS Blood and Transplant at the WWL NHS Trust, encouraged Ainscough to pursue the project after he told her about the idea for the book.
“Intensive care units can be a very daunting place for young children, and it is often difficult to explain to them what is happening in a way that they would understand. Mark’s book does just that,” she said. “It’s an amazing idea and not only will it provide invaluable support to children in that situation, but it will also help raise awareness of organ donation in the younger generation.”
The organ donation process in the U.K. is voluntary, which means consent is not presumed and patients have the option to “opt out.” The NHS facilitated nearly 4,600 transplants in the 2022/23 fiscal year but there are still over 7,000 people on the country’s Transplant Waiting List and over 430 people in the U.K. died last year waiting for transplant organs.
“It is great that Mark has written a book aimed at children to raise awareness of organ donation and what happens when someone donates to save lives,” Angie Scales, Pediatric Lead Nurse at NHS Blood and Transplant which oversees organ donation in the U.K., added.
“It is good to have another way to explain to children the amazing gift their loved one is giving. I’m sure ‘Freddie and the Magic Heart’ will help many families at a tragic time and prompt more family conversations about organ donation. We need families to talk about organ donation for all members of the family, including children, and to confirm their decisions on the NHS Organ Donor Register.”