Published Wednesday, 13 February 2013
15 people die each year on the waiting list. (© UTV)
The decision to give a loved one's organ is a devastating one for any family to make, but it may give someone else the gift of life.
Two people with very different stories spoke to UTV about their experiences.
William Johnston has been waiting on a kidney for 14 years. He has four hours of dialysis four times a week, after his health failed at the age of just 29.
"I am on very strict fluids, very strict fruit restriction as well and my overall freedom is just curtailed - I no longer have the freedom of any normal person," he said.
"I was very, very lucky in 1995 to get a kidney transplant - unfortunately, it rejected soon afterwards. It put a lot of rogue antibodies into the system, which has made it very difficult for me to be matched.
"My twin brother and my mother both put themselves forward for live donorship. Unfortunately, they weren't compatible either. But I live in hope."
However, Erica Ferguson's life was saved by a liver transplant. She was just days from death after a mystery virus gave her liver failure and knows how lucky she is.
For a stranger who I never knew and never will to give me the gift of life, show compassion at the worst time in someone's life ... It's amazing.
Erica Ferguson, donor recipient
"Everybody has blood numbers," she explained.
"When they did my blood numbers, your liver numbers are meant to be about 18 - mine were in the 4,000s, so technically I should have been dead.
"It was quite a scary time for myself and for my family.
"I had 48 hours to live and the first available liver in the whole of Europe had to be given to me, so I went on the international register for a life-saving transplant."
She added: "If it hadn't been for that liver, I would be dead.
"I have managed to see my daughter go to university - she was eight when I got ill - I might not have been here and I might not have seen her grow up."
For more info on the From the Heart campaign, or to sign the NHS Organ Donor Register, check out UTV's dedicated microsite here.
© UTV News