This Organ Donation Week (20 to 26 September) NHS Blood and Transplant and Bradford Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (BTHFT) are calling on people to talk to their families about organ donation and leave them certain about their decision.
At 31 March this year, there were around 3.3 million people in the North East and Yorkshire areas on the NHS Organ Donor Register, while nationally there were 26.7 million – or four in 10 people. However, people need to tell their family to help ensure their family supports their decision, if they are approached about organ donation by a specialist nurse in hospital.
New figures released show that at 31 March, 2021, there were 514 people in the North East and Yorkshire areas on the kidney transplant waiting list.
The Trust is now asking people across the area to tell their families that they want to donate after their death to ensure more lives are saved.
The law around organ donation changed in England in May 2020 and all adults are now considered as having agreed to donate their own organs when they die, unless they record a decision not to donate, are in one of the excluded groups or have told their family that they don’t want to donate.
However, relatives will still always be consulted before organ donation goes ahead and each year, opportunities for transplants are missed because families aren’t sure what to do.
This year, organ donation has also been added to the National Curriculum for the first time, so family members, whatever their age, are being encouraged to get together to talk about their own organ donation decisions.
Specialist Nurse Organ Donation (SNOD), Razdy Igasan, who is based at BTHFT, said: “Letting your family and friends know about your organ donation decision is really important.
“In my role as a specialist nurse, I have met families who struggled to know what their loved ones’ organ donation decisions were at such a difficult time because they had not discussed it. I have also met families who found real comfort during their bereavement, and a sense of poignant pride knowing their loved ones had decided to help save other people’s lives as an organ donor at the time of their death.”
“Knowing what your relative wanted, helps families support their decision around organ donation at what is often a difficult time.
“We need more people in Bradford to talk with their loved ones about organ donation to give them the certainty they need to support their organ donation decision.”
James Morgan, Consultant at BTHFT and the Trust’s lead for organ donation added: “These conversations are especially important for local residents from black and Asian backgrounds. People from these communities are more likely to need a transplant, however, often wait longer as the best chance of a match will often come from someone of the same ethnicity.”
This week, BTHFT is supporting Organ Donation Week by lighting its buildings pink, the colour of the campaign. Other buildings around the city, including Bradford City Hall, Margaret McMillan Tower and Forster Square Arches are also being illuminated.
The Trust is also honoured to unveil a lasting tribute to two of its patients who have given the gift of life to others. The patients’ families attended the moving event where two wall mounts were placed in the main concourse at Bradford Royal Infirmary.
The wall mounts depict images of loved ones who had gone on, in death, to save the lives of others.
Anthony Clarkson, Director of Organ and Tissue 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 now the law has changed, families will continue to be approached before organ donation goes ahead. It remains so important to talk to your families and ensure they know what you would want to happen.
“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 much easier if they already know what their relative wanted.”
To find out more and register your decision, visit the NHS Organ Donor Register at www.organdonation.nhs.uk and share your decision with your family. Users of the NHS app, can also use this to record, check or amend their details or decision.
Harrison Smith, who lives in Bradford, is 28 years-old and has now undergone two organ transplants.
Harrison first underwent a lung transplant due to his condition of cystic fibrosis which caused a general deterioration of his lungs.
Unfortunately, the medication he needed after the lung transplant, caused his kidneys to fail and so a kidney transplant became necessary. But he describes his transplant as ‘life changing.’
“Prior to the kidney transplant, I was having to undergo dialysis which really impacts on your life. It is very restrictive because I was having four hours of dialysis six days a week and it’s difficult to plan your life around that.
“After the transplant I feel like I am living a normal life again. I am going to the cinema with friends and out for a meal and I am not clock-watching all the time, thinking I need to go for my dialysis. The freedom it has given me is amazing.
“My message to anyone waiting for a transplant, is don’t give up hope, and to anyone thinking of becoming an organ donor, just do it! Why wouldn’t you?
“I can’t think of a single reason why you wouldn’t become an organ donor but I can think of millions of reasons why you should – simply the amount of people who can help. Being an organ donor is doing something remarkable.”