Scots charity hits £2m milestone as founder 'gives back' for organ donor who saved his life

A charity set up by a double organ recipient to 'pay tribute to his donor' has helped fund £2 million worth of good causes across Scotland.

Before his life-saving kidney surgery 17 years ago, Russell MacMillan felt scared but was determined to make the most of his future.

After the surgery he set up East Renfrewshire Good Causes and set out to raise £100,000 for his local community.

Russell , now 59, told Glasgow Live: "I can remember getting ready for going into the operating theatre, I was so weak and scared.

"I felt something come over me - I can only describe it as some sort of experience where I got a surge of energy to write down what I want to do in the future once I have had this surgery, all going well.

“I shouldn’t have been thinking about anything other than getting through the surgery in that moment, but instead it where was the idea of East Renfrewshire Good Causes came from.”

The charity was set up in 2007 by Newton Mearns man Russell, who is also registered blind.

East Renfrewshire Good Causes aims to carry out acts of kindness in memory of the unknown donor. He added: “I am alive today, because of the organs that were donated to me. The strength I have is from them, not me.”

The now Scotland-wide charity has miraculously succeeded in giving out just over £2 million in additional resources over and above state provision and "showing loving acts of kindness" to 7,348 people across the country.

An act of kindness can range from donating therapy sessions for an autistic teen struggling at school with their mental health to wet floor shower adaptation with non-slip flooring for a disabled pensioner.

Costs and work carried out varies greatly, depending on need and individual situations, and each referral comes from a frontline worker involved in the person's life, from teachers to housing, health and social workers.

“They see the needs of people in society,” Russell explained. “This allows the charity to guarantee that 100% of personal donations are spent directly on acts of kindness to individuals."

On the impressive £2 million milestone, Russell adds that "sheer determination got us here" - and he hopes ERGC can continue its work for many more years to come.

The man who kicked it all off in memory of the organ donor who saved his life added: "A wee act of kindness in someone’s darkest hour can mean millions.”

Don't miss the latest news from around Scotland and beyond - Sign up to our daily newsletter here.