How a ‘gobsmacked’ News of the World editor fell for a brave young underdog


FORMER News of the World editor PATSY CHAPMAN (1988-93) tells why a brave young man’s story inspired a ‘gobsmacked’ veteran to renew her transplant donor card.


YOU KNOW the old joke: the doctor tells a patient, “The good news is you have a new liver; the bad news is you’re an alcoholic.”

Well, my shiny pink, new organ transplant card has just arrived to replace the tatty old one in my purse and I can hear the cackles of laughter from those Fleet Street hacks and friends who have taken a drink with me over the years.

Worse than that, I once knew every dish on the menus at Gerard Street’s many all-night Chinese restaurants, premises regularly frequented after shifts that ended at 3.30 in the morning. And I have never knowingly passed a cake shop. . . well, er, unless I was really pissed and didn’t notice.

So why the donor card? Well, I voted at the General Election in our Bury St Edmunds constituency for a gutsy 29-year-old who has had two liver transplants and was standing as an independent with organ transplant awareness as his main message.

And this is where it gets interesting. I told him how ancient I was and he said “So what?” His last liver transplant was from a 69-year-old woman. I was truly gobsmacked

She must have been a teetotal yoga enthusiast who had never heard of Greggs! Anyway, it inspired me to get a new card and more information.

My liver is unlikely to be of any use except for the Whiskas cat food factory. But the skin on my fat bum could sort a burns unit.

And if no bits of me are of any use to transplant, I have given consent for them to be used for research. It could help solve bipolar schizophrenia and extreme apathy. I said ‘if that’s no good, either, then feed me to a hungry dog.

I hope this column doesn’t offend anyone who religiously disagrees with it, but my family have no such qualms. My election candidate was at the Commons this week to discuss organ transplant law with members of the House body he boldly tried to join. He inspired me and I wish him all the best in getting transplant law changed. In fact I am going to have a nice big glass of wine to him right now while he tells you how it went:

Defeated parliamentary candidate Liam Byrne-Bridges writes: Had a great day at Westminster and after a tour of the Commons and Lords. I sat down with Jo (Churchill, the Conservative MP who defeated me) to discuss why I believe we should have an opt-out donor system like they do in Wales, I showed her all the comments provided from an online survey and she thought they were was helpful, providing new ideas she hadn’t thought of.

All my paperwork, my background and why I believe we should have this system has been handed to the Secretary of State. There is a small movement at the moment: on Thursday (July 13) the Secretary of State for Wales will be speaking on the subject in Westminster Hall at about 3pm if anyone wants to follow.

Legislation takes such a long time in this country. But hopefully this we get it moving in the right direction.


  1. A useful article.
    In my lifetime I am doing at least one useful thing for society. I am a blood donor, my next donation will be the 70th since I started as a student in 1976. And when I no longer have need for my body I am happy for the NHS to use any parts to repair others!
    Cornea transplants work well even with elderly eyes apparently so no one is too old to carry a donor card.
    The opt out system gets my vote too.


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