Organ Donation Week: families urged to talk about their wishes
Families are being urged to talk about their wishes regarding organ donation ahead of a new law coming into force next spring.
During Organ Donation Week from Monday, September 2 to Sunday, September8, Royal Papworth Hospital NHS Foundation Trust and NHS Blood and Transplant are urging people to talk to their families about organ donation to increase the number lives that can be saved or transformed by an organ transplant.
Next year, the law around organ donation is changing in England. Known as Max and Keira’s Law, from spring 2020, 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 or are in one of the excluded groups.
In the lead up to the change in law, families across England are being urged to talk about their organ donation decision, with the campaign message ‘Pass it on’.
Anthony Clarkson, Director of Organ Donation and Transplantation for NHS Blood and Transplant said: “We are very grateful to Royal Papworth for its support during Organ Donation Week. Even after the law around organ donation changes next year, families will still be approached before organ donation goes ahead. So it remains so important to talk to your families about your views.
“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 with nurses or medical teams much easier if they already know what their relative wanted.”
Even after the law has changed, families will continue to be approached before organ donation goes ahead. Knowing what their relative wanted helps families support their decision at a difficult time.
A recent survey of adults in England for NHS Blood and Transplant found that while 84% agreed it was important to let those closest to you know your views on organ donation, only 40% had shared their organ donation decision with their family or partner.
Royal Papworth performed 45 heart transplants and 43 lung transplants in 2018/19, the most cardiothoracic transplants of any of the six adult centres, but although more and more families are saying yes to organ donation there is still an urgent shortage of donors.
Royal Papworth is supporting the campaign by sharing information on its social media pages to ask people to tell their families they want to donate to help make sure more lives are saved.
Phil Churchill, 43, from Norfolk, received a double lung transplant at Royal Papworth in 2019: “Please, please have that conversation with your families and loved ones. I’ve lived with cystic fibrosis my entire life and earlier this year my health deteriorated. I came into Royal Papworth and they did everything they could to reduce my infection levels, increase my weight and get me ready for transplant.
“I went on the transplant waiting list and was absolutely honoured to receive the gift of a set of lungs from a donor. It’s already completely revolutionised my life; I’m able to walk without using oxygen; I’m driving; I’ve got energy; and I’m able to plan - that's a huge thing, knowing that I can book something into my diary three weeks ahead and it'll probably be alright. I’m also looking forward to getting back to some kind of work. Without the transplant, I don’t know how I would be right now. I’m just eternally grateful to my donor’s generous gift of life, a decision supported by their family, which means I am able to get back to doing the things I love.”
Find out more and register your decision by visiting NHS Organ Donor Register at www.organdonation.nhs.uk and share your decision with your family.