With an average of three people dying each day in the UK while waiting for an organ, a councillor is urging more of us to register as organ donors.
More than four out of 10 families refuse consent for organ removal while others are forced to endure the heartbreak of watching their loved ones die knowing that a transplant could have saved them.
Cllr Robert Everitt, St Edmundsbury Borough Council’s cabinet member for families and communities, said: “Even in the 21st Century it seems organ donation remains very much a taboo but it is one that needs breaking. People are dying needlessly.”
Ahead of National Transplant Week (which runs from September 7-13), Cllr Everitt has been appointed the new chairman of West Suffolk Hospital’s Organ Donation Committee.
The group was set up to encourage more people to sign the NHS Organ Donor Register and aims to encourage people to have open discussions with their loved ones about what they would like to happen to their organs and tissue when they die.
Cllr Everitt said: “While I respect everyone’s religious or personal beliefs, I also think it is vital that we have these conversations at home so our wishes are known.
“Many people don’t realise that if they haven’t made their decision clear, their grieving family could be asked to agree to their donation taking place.
“By being explicit in our wishes, we can spare our loved ones the additional heartache of having to make such an important decision at such a sombre moment in their lives.”
Dr Jon Cardy, the hospital’s clinical lead for organ donation, said: “2014/15 was our best year to date in terms of the numbers of local families that agreed to donation and the number of families that were consequently helped. I am absolutely delighted that Cllr Everitt has agreed to lead our committee. His passion and enthusiasm for the subject will be vital in continuing to build on the successes that we have had to date.”
Register at www.organdonation.nhs.uk or call 0300 123 2323.
MORE ON ORGAN DONATION:
At West Suffolk Hospital, 12 families agreed to donate organs in 2014/15 leading to 13 people receiving organ transplants.
Nationally, more than 4,400 people in the UK were saved or had their lives transformed through an organ transplant in 2014/15. (Around a quarter of these were made possible through living donors who gave a kidney or part of their liver).
There are currently around 7,000 people on the transplant waiting list.
Evidence suggests a family is more likely to give consent if they already knew organ donation is what their loved one wanted.
Anyone can become a donor, with neither age nor most medical conditions a barrier.
One donor can transform the lives of up to nine people.