Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust is encouraging people to talk to their families about organ donation as part of their end of life care wishes.
To mark Organ Donation Week which runs until Sunday 10 September, the trust is urging people to tell their families they want to become donors to ensure more life-saving transplants can take place.
Figures released by NHS Blood and Transplant this week show 275 people in the North East have died waiting for an organ transplant over the past 10 years.
This means that hundreds of life-saving transplants are being missed every year because families do not know what their relative wanted. Left to make the decision for someone they love, families often decide it is safer to say no.
The reluctance to talk about the issue is contributing to a deadly shortage of organs. In the North East alone, there are currently 264 people waiting for a transplant. They will only receive that life-changing call if people make sure their families know they want to be a donor.
In 2016/17 the trust had the highest number of families consent to organ donation.
Tracey Carrott, Specialist Nurse in Organ Donation at NHS Blood and Transplant, said;
“To have 20 families consenting to organ donation last year is excellent and when you consider each donation has the potential to save up to nine lives – it brings home the scale of this. When you think that we had one family consenting to organ donation in 2010, it really does show how far we’ve come in the last seven years.
“Whereas nowadays many people are more aware of their relatives’ end of life care wishes, there are still many families who do not have that conversation and simply do not know what to do when that time comes.
“While we’ve made great strides in this area in recent years, we’re pleased to support this year’s Organ Donation Week and encourage people to make their family aware of their views.”
NHS Blood and Transplant surveys show more than 80% of people support organ donation but only around 49% of people have ever talked about it. Research shows that women are 30% more likely to start a conversation about organ donation than men.
Families who agree to donate say it helps with their grief and that they feel an enormous sense of pride at knowing their relative gave others the chance of a new beginning.
NHS Blood and Transplant wants everyone to be able to save lives through organ donation and not be prevented from doing so because they have not told a relative their decision.
For more information about organ donation, visit www.nhsbt.nhs.uk