Right now, there are around 6,400 people waiting for an organ transplant and on average, 3 people die every day across the UK because not enough organs are being donated. This week is Organ Donation Week and the NHS Blood and Transplant service is encouraging us all to talk to our families about organ donation with their ‘Let’s about it’ campaign.
I have been registered as an organ donor ever since I got my driving licence when I was 17 as there was an option to sign up at the same time. But did you know that, even if you are on the organ donor register, your organs cannot be used if the worst happens without consent from your next of kin?
Last year (2016/17) 89 families declined to donate despite knowing that their loved one was on the NHS Organ Donor Register. Only 47% of families agree to donation going ahead if they are unaware of their loved one’s decision to be a donor. This rises to almost 91% when the decision to be an organ donor is known.
If you are registered as an organ donor it is so important that you talk to your family and let them know what you want to happen to your organs if you die. If you aren’t yet registered as a donor then you can sign up here. If you live in Wales then there is an opt-out system in place which means that if you don’t register to not donate, then it will be assumed you give consent. However, it is still really important that you make your family aware of your wish to donate as they will still make the final decision.
If you still aren’t sure about becoming an organ donor then maybe this story can help to change your mind.
This is Daniel. He’s three years old and he was born with chronic kidney disease. At 10 months old he lost what little kidney function he had and since then he has been on dialysis for 10 hours every night. He has been in and out hospital since he was born and so far has had 14 operations. Kidney disease has also affected his bones and means he has to be fed via a tube.
Daniel’s mum is a friend of mine, I remember seeing her when she was pregnant and they already knew at that point that there was a problem with his kidneys. I don’t think they really knew then exactly what the outcome was going be, they had to wait until he was born to find out the extent of the problem. They found out when he was just a few weeks old that he would need a kidney transplant, but that it wouldn’t be possible until he was three or four years old.
Even though we moved away from Scotland I have followed Daniel’s progress through his Facebook page and I cannot even begin to imagine how unthinkably difficult the last three years have been for him and his family. But not only have they managed to get through the last three years with all the hospital visits, daily dialysis, operations, infections and everything else that has been thrown at them they have worked tirelessly to raise awareness of the need for organ donation, and to raise money for charities such as Live Life Give Live, and Kidney Kids Scotland.
Hopefully, Daniel is going to receive a live kidney donation from a close relative, but there are still thousands of people in the UK waiting for new organs.
If you do one thing today, please, sign up to be an organ donor…and then tell your family about it.