Words save lives: tell your family you’d like to be on the Organ Donor Register

Bradford Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust has pledged to help save lives by supporting Organ Donation Week (September 3 to 9) and is encouraging people across the city to talk about what their wishes are after they have died, to give thousands waiting the chance of a ‘new beginning’.

The national NHS campaign is asking families about organ donation to increase the number of people whose lives can be saved or transformed by an organ transplant.

Nationally, three people die every day in need of an organ, and there are around 65 people1 in Bradford on the transplant waiting list.

Families will always be approached to see if their loved ones had agreed to donate their organs. Knowing what their loved one’s wishes are helps families support their decision at a difficult time.

In May 2018, around 148,000 people  in the district were already on the national NHS Organ Donor Register but people also need to tell their family they want to donate.

Last year at Bradford Royal Infirmary, eight people were able to donate their organs after their death, which resulted in 15 patients receiving a life-saving or life-changing transplant.

Shortage of donors

More and more families in Bradford are saying yes to organ donation but there is still an urgent shortage of donors. Bradford Teaching Hospitals, which runs both the BRI and St Luke’s Hospital, is asking people across the city to tell their families they want to donate to help make sure more lives are saved.

The Trust’s Clinical Lead for Organ Donation, Dr Andy Baker, said: “We need more people in Bradford to talk about organ donation to increase the number of life-saving transplants.

“Only one third of adults in England have told their partner or their family they want to donate, despite 8 out of 10 people telling us they would be willing to donate or would consider it.

“Sadly, many opportunities are lost every year because families don’t know if their loved one wanted to be a donor or not.

“We can change things, though we need your support to get people talking.”

There is also a great need within our black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) communities in Bradford and indeed across the UK, who are forced to wait longer than the majority of white patients due to a scarcity of suitable organs from the same ethnic and racial pool.

A recent report from NHS Blood and Transplant (NHSBT) revealed that 21 per cent of people who died on the waiting list last year were from a BAME background, compared with 15 per cent a decade ago. The percentage of donors from BAME backgrounds did increase last year, but is still at just seven per cent.

Heart function

Kevin Ferdinand, 39, from Undercliffe, Bradford, who is of Afro-American descent, underwent a heart transplant in April 2018 at Wythenshawe Hospital, Manchester after an unidentified virus left him with only seven per cent heart function and sent him spiralling into heart, lung, liver and renal failure.

Last week (August 29), Kevin was able to return to work as a data improvement officer at St Luke’s Hospital, Bradford.

He said: “My love of life, my zest for life has changed. I have been given another chance. I look at life in so much more detail. My passion now is to help others and use this as a positive rather than a negative experience.

“I would encourage people to donate. I didn’t know anything about it before I got sick. It’s also crucial that people in the black, Asian and minority ethnic communities are educated as there is such a need in these communities yet there is not enough donor organs. There is no doubt that organ donation saves lives and I am living proof of that. People never think it will happen to them, but look at me. If it can happen to me it can happen to anyone.

“I get emotional every time I think of my donor family. I have an image where I see the person who has given me their heart and they are saying: ‘This is my heart, take good care of it.’

“They are my hero and my guardian angel. Thank you will never be enough. They have given me another chance of life. I will do all I can to look after their heart and make them proud of their gift.”

Anthony Clarkson, Interim 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.

“Words save lives. Please, tell your family you want to save lives through organ donation, because it could be the difference between life and death for someone else.”

Millions of people are already on the NHS Organ Donor Register, join them today and tell your family you want to save lives. Register at www.organdonation.nhs.uk