Organ Donation Week begins today with the NHS and charitable organisations spreading the word that donating is more vital than ever before.
This week, people are banding together to encourage new donors to come forward while celebrating the donors who have already saved lives.
The event comes after a recent report from the NHS revealed a peak in deaths of patients waiting for transplants. The report disclosed that many of these casualties were a result of the families of donors declining permission to use their organs, despite being registered on the NHS Organ Donor Register. NHS Blood and Transplant have said that three families block donation a week. This issue leads to approximately 460 life-saving organs to be lost each year.
It is believed that families decide not to allow organ donation because they are unsure of what their deceased relative would have wanted. While carrying a donor card is a legal declaration, if a family strongly protests, the transplant will not go ahead. In light of this, the NHS is now encouraging families to speak more openly with each other on the topic of organ donation. Having a clear conversation with relations could potentially help to alleviate the problem and save more lives. This will be one of many topics being covered during this week’s campaign.
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Assistant director of organ donation for NHS Blood and Transplant, Anthony Clarkson, remarked: ‘Hundreds of people are dying unnecessarily every year waiting for transplants. We know that if everyone who supported donation talked about it and agreed to donate, most of those lives would be saved.’ Clarkson reiterates that people who sign up for the transplant list should also take it upon themselves to make their intentions clear those around them. ‘If you want to save lives, don’t leave it too late to talk to your family’, he added.
The Telegraph reported that as of last week there were currently 6,414 people waiting for a new organ in the UK. Last year, 457 patients died whilst waiting for their transplant and another 875 were removed from the waiting list because they were too ill—many died shortly afterwards. Predictions on the topic are unanimous: the death toll will increase if action isn’t taken.
The NHS Blood and Transplant director of organ donation and transplantation, Sally Johnson, commented: ‘We hope people across the UK will get behind the week and the opportunity it presents to focus people’s attention on organ donation. People waiting for transplants depend on people being willing to donate their organs and sadly on average three people die every day across the UK due to a shortage of donated organs.’
Families are now being encouraged to view organ donation with a huge sense of pride; the donator is helping to save a life (or even several). If you are interested in becoming an organ donor, visit organdonation.nhs.uk to sign the register.
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