Organ donation: Turning an end into a beginning

THURROCK people are being urged to talk to their family about organ donation during a national awareness raising week.

Many people believe that all you need to do to show you want to be a donor is to join the NHS Organ Donor Register. However, if you die in circumstances where you could become an organ donor your family would be approached by specialist nurses and asked to support your decision to donate.

NHS Blood and Transplant figures show that only 47 percent of families agree to organ donation if they are unaware of their relative’s decision to be a donor. Yet almost 90 percent of families give their consent when the decision to be an organ donor is known.

Organ Donation Week is highlighting how people could give someone the chance of a new beginning by telling their family they want to be an organ donor.

According to the recently published Organ Donation and Transplantation Activity Report 15/16, 95 people received a potentially lifesaving or transforming transplant last year in Essex alone.

However, the report also shows that around four out of ten families in the UK did not agree to donate a relative’s organs. When a family says no to donating, someone waiting for a transplant may miss out on their only opportunity for a transplant. Sadly in Essex last year¹, 11 people died before they received the organ they desperately needed.

More lives across the UK would be saved if more families agreed to donate their organs after death.

Thurrock Council’s Public Health team, Mayor, Deputy Mayor as well as MP Jackie Doyle Price have been helping the cause by talking to people in Grays High Street last Friday (9 September).

Mayor of Thurrock, Cllr Cathy Kent attended on the day and said: “Organ donation is really important and I encourage people to sign up.

“Signing up is quick and easy but the key message is – talk to your family about what your and their choice will be. It is much easier to have the conversation ahead of any difficult times.”

This year’s Organ Donation Week theme is ‘Turn an end, into a beginning’, emphasising how each of us could give someone the chance of a new beginning by telling our families we want to be an organ donor.

Portfolio Holder for Health, Cllr James Halden said: “Organ donation is a relatively rare event in the UK, because although around half a million people die each year, only around 1 per cent does so in circumstances which allow organs to be donated.

“The week is here to prompt family conversations about organ donation so your relatives know what you would have wanted and can supporting your decision to be an organ donor and save lives.

“I’m proud to have signed up and if you have any questions, visit the website for more information. It only took 60 seconds and that minute could one day give someone years extra to live.”

He added: “While we encourage everyone to have the conversation, there is a particular need for more Black and Asian families to talk about organ donation.”

In 2015/16, only 5 per cent of all deceased donors came from a Black, Asian or Minority Ethnic (BAME) background and families from these communities are more likely to say no to donating a relative’s organs than white families.

This is a particular concern as Black and Asian people are more susceptible to conditions such as diabetes, hypertension and certain types of hepatitis, making them more likely to need a transplant. BAME patients make up a third of the active kidney transplant waiting list. Although some are able to receive a transplant from a white donor, for many the best match will come from a donor from the same ethnic background. BAME donors are needed to improve the chances of these patients getting the kidney transplant they need.

If you would like to help others after your death, tell your family your want to be an organ donor and join the NHS Organ Donor Register.

To join the NHS Organ Donor Register visit organdonation.nhs.uk or call 0300 123 2323.

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