Cold War superstar Tomasz Kot leads campaign for organ relief
Already regarded as a national treasure, actor Tomasz Kot is harnessing his star power to front a campaign urging Poles to approve the donation of their next of kin’s organs after death.
As it stands, consent for organ donation is assumed as standard in Poland and the family of the deceased must raise an objection to prevent organs being used. However, while research undertaken by Kantar Polska shows that 90% of family members consent to such donations, demand still outstrips supply.
The same study showed that only 17% of those asked spoke to their family to clarify their wishes regarding organ donation; another 7% of respondents revealed they strongly opposed donating organs while another 14% voiced moderate misgivings.
“This is a very personal campaign for me,” explains Marek Biskup, the founder of Kantar Polska. “A year and a half ago, I lost my lungs as a result of medical malpractice and my life was only saved by an innovative, risky lung transplant procedure. I learned then that the main reason for the low number of transplanted organs in Poland is the lack of consent from families.”
Last October, President Andrzej Duda encouraged families to discuss organ donation: “I’d like to popularise this idea. I think it’s very important that families should decide on this question and at the right moment say ‘yes, you can take whatever you need’.”
In Poland, the waiting list for transplants topped 1,815 patients in September, slightly down from last year’s figure of 1,962. Kidneys remained the most sought after donations with over 1,000 patients awaiting treatment, while the heart was second with 400 patients on the list for transplants.
Furthermore, the new campaign will also seek to remind people that they can also donate blood, bone marrow and tissue to help those in need. This is particularly salient given that blood plasma has become such a valued commodity in the ongoing battle against Covid-19.
Using footage from the film Bogów (The Gods) in which Kot portrayed Zbigniew Religa, the surgeon that performed Poland’s first heart transplant, hopes are high that the campaign will receive a positive reception from the general public.
A hugely popular figure, Kot’s roles have included a star turn in the Amazon hit series Cold War and in the BBC serial World On Fire. The 43-year-old actor will also appear in the upcoming movie Warning from first-time Polish director Agata Alexander. Originally scheduled for theatrical release in April, its premier has faced numerous postponements due to the pandemic.