On this page you can find out more about the campaign to raise awareness around the issue of organ donation, which is fully supported by The Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital NHS Trust.
Every year about 1,000 people die waiting for a transplant in the UK because of a shortage of organs. As you are reading this article there are thousands of people waiting desperately on the transplant list for an organ that could save their lives. While many people may be aware of statistics like this, I see this problem first hand every time I come to work.
A big part of the problem is that when people sign up to become an organ donor they assume that is the end of it, but it isn’t. I cannot stress just how important it is for people to make sure they let their loved ones know that they want to be an organ donor as well. Statistics show that while 95% of families agree to donation if a loved one is registered and has discussed their wishes, this drops to only 46% when donation wishes aren’t known.
The Trust is now working hard to promote this campaign and make a difference to people’s lives. Most of the people I speak to say they wouldn’t hesitate to say “yes” if someone they loved needed an organ. It is a completely different scenario though when relatives are faced with the question of would they consent for a loved one to become a donor when the circumstances sadly arise. At a time like that the family shouldn’t have to, or may not be able to, make such a difficult choice. This is why it is crucial for people who wish to be organ donors to let their families know their wishes.
The choice to become a donor is a very personal one and we shouldn’t be afraid to talk about these things with our families, in fact we need to make sure we do. This will make a very difficult decision much easier for them, and also help to give the gift of life to others.
The Law around Organ Donation is changing
In February 2020, the Government announced that, subject to parliamentary approval, Max and Keira’s Law – the Organ Donation (Deemed Consent) Act – will come into effect on the 20 May 2020.
From the time the law changes, all adults in England will be considered as having agreed to donate their own organs when they die unless they record a decision not to donate, what’s known as ‘opt out’, or are in one of the excluded groups.
Those excluded will be people under 18, those who lack the mental capacity to understand the new arrangements and take the necessary action; and people who have lived in England for less than 12 months or who are not living here voluntarily.
Even after the law changes, families will still be involved before any organ or tissue donation goes ahead and NHS Blood and Transplant Specialist Nurses will continue to speak with families about their loved one’s decision.
Anthony Clarkson, Director of Organ and Tissue Donation and Transplantation, said:
“We hope that the new law encourages more people to record their donation decision and talk about organ donation with their families. It is important for people to know that they can do this at any time before or after the law comes into effect, there is no deadline for making your donation decision.
“We are encouraged that almost two thirds of people in England are now aware that the law is changing, but we would like this figure to be even higher by the time the law changes.
“The majority of people tell us that they support organ donation in principle, yet only around 4 in 10 have actually registered their decision.
“For those who have not thought about organ donation before, or who still have questions, we have lots of information available on our website and our team of helpline advisors are available to answer any queries.
“Organ donation is and always will be a precious gift and if more people are inspired to support and agree to donation, then many more lives can be saved.”
You can read more about the change in law around organ donation via the NHS Blood and Transplant Website.
Specialist Nurse – Organ Donation.