Transplant week – giving someone a second chance

In Minus Me by Ingelin Rossland, Linda has a rare heart condition and needs a transplant. In honour of Transplant week last week, we asked Give a Kidney to write for us so we can learn more.


Most people know that you can offer to donate your organs to someone you need after you die, but did you know that adults in the UK can help someone in need whilst they are still alive by offering to donate one of their healthy kidneys?

In the UK around 300 people die in need of a kidney transplant each year – that’s almost one every day. There are around 5,500 people on the transplant waiting list right now waiting for a kidney that could vastly improve, prolong or even save their life.

Meanwhile, humans only need one of their kidneys to lead a full and healthy life, and yet most of us are born with two. Many of us would be willing to accept an organ if we needed one, but could you consider giving one?

Until 2006, all living donors (those donating a kidney whilst alive) were either relatives or friends of people who received the kidney transplant. In 2006, guidance under the new Human Tissue Act stated that altruistic kidney donation was permitted. Altruistic donation, sometimes also known as non-directed donation, is the term that describes a donation that is given without knowledge of who is going to receive the kidney. An altruistic donor simply volunteers to give away one of their healthy kidneys to someone who needs it. NHS Blood and Transplant conducts lots of tests to ensure the person is healthy enough to donate and, if so, finds the most suitable person to receive the kidney and the transplant is arranged. It’s a similar concept to giving blood, the organ just goes to the person who is the closest match who needs it the most.

In the UK, more than 430 people have donated in this way, taking 430 people off that long transplant waiting list and giving them their health and freedom back.  Could you consider it?

To find out more please visit


–Jan Shorrock

Damilare, a student at the British International School in Lagos, reviews “Conversion” by Katherine Howe

Conversion doesn’t pull many punches. Within the first 40 pages the action’s already off to a great start. With the first victim of the mysterious illness which goes on to plague St. Joan’s, a school so preppy it hurts, falling ill. She is quickly joined by 2 others and this illness serves as the major plot line within the narrative, as well as the driving force behind several smaller ones.

Arthur Miller’s The Crucible, serves as a major plot device within the story. The flashbacks that feature prominently in the story utilize the same characters. The events and characters within the Crucible flashbacks parallel the ones currently happening, very well.

I cannot tell a lie and say this book is perfect. The frequent flashbacks do a great job of adding another layer to the story but less patient and less meticulous readers may find it hard to keep up with the simultaneously occurring plotlines. I had to turn back every now and again to re-read a flashback chapter to make sure I wasn’t missing anything.

Aside from that the book is an eternally suspenseful read from start to finish with its cards never more than an inch from its chest. As the book places each one down on the table, you shall grow more and more impatient to discover the true nature of what is going on in the town of Danvers, Massachusetts.

The main character Colleen Rowley is by today’s standards a fairly average teenage girl. Average in everything except her GPA. Coleen is gunning for valedictorian and is taking every opportunity she can to push herself to earn those vital points. She is so determined she even wishes ill upon her friends and hopes they fail in order to guarantee her success, and a place in Harvard University. This makes her hard to relate to and easy to dislike at times but on the whole it is obvious she means well and is simply struggling under the immense pressure and reputation of her school.

Colleen’s group of friends all have just enough substance to be interesting, but save for Emma, who is the focal point of one of the side plots, and a major player in the story’s ending, they lack depth. Aside from Colleen, the two most fleshed out and interesting characters are: Spence, Colleen’s new boyfriend, and Jennifer Crawford, a pink haired Goth girl who smokes. Both are well developed and well used standout characters.

The biggest question on everyone’s mind, fictional or not, is what exactly is causing the illness? Multiple explanations are arrived at and discarded one by one within the story. In between reading sessions I theorized as to the nature of an illness that manifests completely differently in each victim. Given the…. ‘history’ of the town and the heavy influences of The Crucible, most readers will come to the same warts and flying broom conclusion. The book will never allow you to rest on your laurels though and the feeling of having my theory challenged invigorated me to keep reading to discover the truth.

The ending will knock you for a loop and have you pacing up and down shouting “What?!” at whoever and whatever will listen to you. After I took a seat and grabbed some hot cocoa, I was able to think about what I’d read and came to a very interesting conclusion.

I can’t guarantee what another reader’s conclusion will be, but I can guarantee this: you’ll have a fun time getting there.

© Damilare Williams-Shires

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Back to school, back to reading!

Back to school, back to reading! The canon of children’s and young adult reading has most likely transformed over the years, but it’s always nice to reflect on the books and the teachers that shaped my own reading habits. It’s also interesting to think about the young adult titles from country to country, and how your own culture and values are reflected in the literature that you read.

A true classic that I still like to re-visit from time to time is The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster. As part of our school project, we had to deliver monologues as your favourite character and I, of course, chose Tock, the “watchdog”. Another favourite was There’s a Rainbow in my Closet by Patti Stren, which I chose primarily because of the cover (I was pretty into rainbows). The main character, Emma, used the phrase “whatever floats your boat” quite a lot, which I then mimicked, much to my mother’s dismay. To this day, I overuse that phrase. My absolute favourite book, though, was Walk Two Moons by Sharon Creech. I probably read that book six times in the span of a year.

What strikes me about these three favourites is that only The Phantom Tollbooth was required reading from my school. The other two were picked during my library hours at school, and it was our school librarian who encouraged us to pluck books off the shelf and give them all a try. It was my teachers who let us read when all of our other work was done. And it was my parents who devoured books just as much as I devour them now.

Feeling nostalgic yourself? Let us know some of your childhood favourites on Twitter, tagging @rocktheboatnews.