DURING Organ Donation Week, (7-13 September), NHS Blood and Transplant (NHSBT) and Bradford Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (BTHFT) are urging people to talk to their families about organ donation to increase the number of people whose lives can be saved or transformed by an organ or tissue transplant.
From May this year, the law around organ donation changed in England. All adults are now considered as having agreed to donate their own organs when they die, unless they record a decision not to donate or are in one of the excluded groups.
In Bradford today (figures taken on 13 August, 2020), 85 patients are waiting on a life-saving transplant. To date in 2020/21, 13 Bradford people have received the gift of life, while in 2019/20 this figure stood at 50 – unfortunately the global COVID-19 pandemic has seriously impacted the organ donor donation and transplantation services. Altogether, 212,598 Bradfordians have now made their decisions known and joined the NHS Organ Donor Register.
This week, doctors and specialist nurses at Bradford Teaching Hospitals, which runs Bradford Royal Infirmary and St Luke’s Hospital, are urging families across the district to talk about their organ donation decision and make sure their loved ones are aware as families will continue to be approached before organ donation goes ahead.
Clinical Lead for Organ Donation at BTHFT, Consultant Anaesthetist Dr Andy Baker, said: “Knowing what your relative wanted helps families support their decision around organ donation at what is often a difficult time.
“We desperately need more people in Bradford to talk about organ donation to increase the number of life-saving transplants. These conversations are especially important for those in our south Asian community.
“People from these communities are more likely to need a transplant and they will often have to wait longer on the list as the best match is to receive a donated organ from someone of the same ethnicity.”
Bradford Teaching Hospitals is now asking people across the district to tell their families that they want to donate after their death to ensure more lives are saved.
Specialist Nurse for Organ Donation, Raz Igasan, said: “We need more people in Bradford to talk about organ donation to increase the number of life-saving transplants.
“While most people agree that it is important to talk to their family about organ donation, it is less likely that they will have actually had this important conversation.
“Sadly, many opportunities are lost every year because families don’t know if their loved one wanted to be a donor or not. Please don’t wait. Speak to your family about organ donation today.”
Anthony Clarkson, Director of Organ Donation and Transplantation for NHS Blood and Transplant said: “We are very grateful to Bradford Teaching Hospitals for its support during Organ Donation Week.
“Even after the change in the law around organ donation, families will continue to be approached before organ donation goes ahead. So it remains so important to talk to your families about your views.
“Register your organ donation decision on the NHS Organ Donor Register and tell your family the choice you have made. If the time comes, we know families find the organ donation conversation with nurses or medical teams much easier if they already know what their relative wanted.”
Find out more and register your decision by visiting NHS Organ Donor Register at www.organdonation.nhs.uk and share your decision with your family.
Case studies (available for media interview):
Intensive Care Nurse, Narinder Kaur from Bradford, became an altruistic kidney donor in December 2018. She was spurred on to donate her kidney after caring for renal patients while working as a student nurse at the Bradford Royal Infirmary’s renal medical ward 6.
She said: “I came to nursing late in life at the age of 42 and I am six years qualified this month. I love my job. It brings me great fulfilment in life.
“During my second year of nurse training in 2013, I worked on the renal medical ward and was inspired by the patients and staff. The people I met there left a lasting impression on me and I choose to work there immediately after graduating.
“After doing my own research privately I’ve always believed you can lead a perfectly normal life with just one kidney, and while working on the renal ward straight after nurse qualification, I picked up a leaflet one day about altruistic donors and it sparked a big interest. The more I thought about it the more it made sense and I wanted to do it, it stayed in my heart and soul. I wanted to convert these thoughts into actions, I am a great believer in actions being louder than words.”
Narinder was well aware that patients from a Black, Asian and ethnic minority (BAME) background wait far longer than white British patients due to the need to match organs with blood and tissue type.
“Everyone knows that if you if you are waiting for an organ transplant and come from a BAME background you’re more likely to languish on the organ transplant list and I saw many people who died waiting for the transplant that never came.
“Since I started nursing I have always had a secret desire to donate a kidney because I wanted to help someone else who wasn’t as fortunate as me health-wise. I just wanted to do something worthwhile and give something back to the universe.”
Narinder contacted Bradford renal consultant, Dr John Stoves, and following initial tests and a physiological assessment at St Luke’s Hospital, was referred for more thorough medical examinations at St James’ Hospital in Leeds where the regional kidney transplant centre is based.
“After many weeks of waiting for the tests to be completed, I finally got the word ‘Congrats Narinder, we’ve found a match and you are someone’s golden ticket to a new lease of life!’”
In December 2018, Narinder donated her kidney to a young man who had been poorly with chronic kidney disease. “I insisted that I didn’t want to meet him as I said ‘No, I’m not doing this for me, I’m doing it for the greater good and I don’t need the thanks or the attention.
“Hearing from the transplant co-ordinator that my kidney had worked immediately for the recipient, and he was not just surviving but thriving was all I needed to know.”
Narinder still attends hospital for yearly check-ups as part of the NHS’s aftercare service to altruistic donors.
She is telling her story today, not because she wants praise, but because she wants to inspire others within Bradford to consider either altruistic or living related transplants.
“There is a big need for organs within our community and unless people hear about my story, they may not know that you can do this.
“Being able to give one of my kidneys to another person, who may have eventually died if they had not received this organ, is being able to give the gift of life. I am living proof that you can live well with one kidney …so why not stop the suffering of those who stay on the transplant list through no fault of their own.”
Mohammed Islam, 44, from Bradford received a life-saving transplant from his younger brother in July 2013 (when he was aged 36) after being placed on the transplant list following the discovery that he was suffering from an auto-immune disorder that was damaging his kidneys.
He said: “I was basically told by my renal consultant that because of my rare blood type (because I am from a south Asian background) not to expect a transplant any time soon. I languished on the list for about eight or nine months, until my younger brother asked if he could donate his kidney to me.
“At first I refused to let him put his life on the line for me, but he turned round and asked me: ‘If it was the other way round and it was me on the transplant list, would you donate your kidney to me?’ And I replied: ‘I would, in a heartbeat.’ And he said: ‘There you go then, have confidence in me’. We never looked back.”
“Having a new kidney has been absolutely amazing – it has given me a new lease of life and I’ve never looked back.
“I would encourage people – especially those from the south Asian community here in Bradford to consider living-related donations – receiving a kidney from a member of your own family is the best match that you can get and it gives you the best chance and best outcome for a fantastic quality of life going forward. I will be forever grateful to my younger brother for his gift to me.”
Karen Piotr’s husband, Mark, 49, donated his organs to eight people in May 2017, following his sudden and unexpected death following a bleed on the brain. Karen, from Queensbury, sits on BTHFT organ donation committee and is now a tireless campaigner for organ donation. She is also a trustee for the Family Donor Network: https://www.organdonation.nhs.uk/helping-you-to-decide/real-life-stories/families-who-donated-their-loved-ones-organs-andor-tissue/karen-and-mark-s-story/
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Note to Editors:
- NHS Blood and Transplant (NHSBT): NHSBT is a joint England and Wales Special Health Authority. We provide the blood donation service for England and the organ donation service for the UK. We also provide donated tissues, stem cells and cord blood. We are an essential part of the NHS, saving and improving lives through public donation.
- Bradford Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust:
Bradford Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust is responsible for providing hospital services for the people of Bradford and communities across Yorkshire. We serve a core population of around 500,000 and provide specialist services for 1.1 million people.
Our 5,500 staff work over several sites, including Bradford Royal Infirmary, which provides the majority of inpatient services, and St Luke’s Hospital, which predominantly provides outpatient and rehabilitation services. We also manage local community hospitals at Westwood Park, Westbourne Green, and Eccleshill.
The Trust has its own Bradford Hospitals Charity: https://bradfordhospitalscharity.org/
Follow us on Twitter: @BTHFT
For more information please visit www.bradfordhospitals.nhs.uk