Organ donors urged to discuss decision with family

Posted: July 3, 2014

Discussions encouraged as part of National Transplant Week

As part of National Transplant Week, Great Western Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust is encouraging people to discuss organ donation with their family, even if they have signed the organ donor register.

The UK has one of the lowest rates of family consent for organ donation in the world, due to less than a quarter of the population talking about their choice with a loved one.

When the time comes to request organ donation, family members are often unaware of their relative's decision and, together with the shock and grief of the moment, refuse permission for their loved one to be a donor.

Malcolm Watters, clinical lead for organ donation at Great Western Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, said: "It is vitally important for people to make their families aware of their wishes around organ donation, signing the Organ Donor register is not enough.

"Around 2,000 people die at the Great Western Hospital each year, but on average only 10 of those will actually die in a manner whereby organ donation is a possibility. If we lose just one donation, then we have lost 10 per cent of our donations for the entire year," he said.

As of the beginning of April, there are 60 people in the Swindon area on the transplant waiting list.

More than 20 people in the Trust's catchment area across Swindon and Wiltshire have died since 2009 while waiting for organs such as kidneys, lungs and liver to be donated.

Terry Sell from Lyneham was given a new liver in 2009 after his was on the brink of failure.

He said: "Having a new liver was the difference between life and death for me. If I hadn't had it, I would be dead now.

"It's so important for people on the donor register to talk about their decision with their family. If the person who donated their liver to me hadn't, I know that I would not be here today," he said.

Dr Watters added: "We want people's decision to save the lives of others to be carried out whenever possible. This is much more likely to happen if they've told those closest to them about their decision to donate.

"Every donation is such a rare event and it can make a massive difference to the life of somebody else."

For further information on the Organ Donor Register, visit www.organdonation.nhs.uk/.

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