INTERNATIONAL ORGAN DONATION AWARENESS - UNITED KINGDOM
Organ donors needed to
help save more lives
11:50am Tuesday 13th July 2010
IT ONLY takes a few minutes, but it can help save the lives of thousands of people.
During National Transplant Week, the Daily Echo is highlighting the NHS Blood and Transplant service’s campaign to get more people to sign up and become organ and tissue donors.
While many people support the idea of saving lives through transplants, too few have actually added their names to the organ donor register.
Only 31 per cent are currently signed up to become organ donors across the SO postcode area, including Southampton, Eastleigh, Winchester and the New Forest.
A total of 201,879 of the 648,000 people in our region have registered, despite research suggesting nearly all would accept a donated organ if they needed one.
Latest figures show the need for organ and tissue donors has never been greater.
A total of 525 people in the region are currently awaiting a lifesaving transplant.
Trish Collins, donor transplant coordinator at Southampton University Hospitals’ NHS Trust, responsible for running Southampton General and Princess Anne hospitals, said: “People don’t want to think about death and put off signing up to the organ donor register.
“If you believe in donations then sign up today. Sadly sometimes the next day is too late.”
As well as signing up to become a donor, Trish is urging people to speak about their decision with their relatives so that their wishes are known and respected.
“When families know what the person would have wanted, making that decision is so much easier,” said Trish.
“It’s difficult to take a decision when somebody is not there to tell you what they would have wanted.”
Now she is hoping that greater awareness will increase the number of donations.
“We are striving to make donation following the death of a patient a routine rather than an unusual event, and offer all families the option of organ and tissue donation.
“Medical staff and patients who have received organs cannot emphasise enough just how vital donation is to the health service, and we urgently need to get this message across to everyone.”
And Trish is keen to point out that tissue donation is just as important as organ donation.
She said: “Many patients have enhanced the life of others through tissue donation, which includes giving the gift of sight through eye donation and enabling severely burned patients to have much need skin grafts through skin donation.”
More than 1,000 people across the UK – an average of three a day – die every year in the UK while waiting to receive an organ.
'WE COULD WASTE A LIFE SO PRECIOUS"
FROM his tragic death, four people have been given the gift of life.
Ford worker Russell Holmes collapsed suddenly at his Southampton home after suffering a massive brain haemorrhage, aged just 26.
After being told there was nothing that could be done for him, his family agreed to donate his organs to help others.
Now more than a year on mum Pauline, who works for a Hamble yachtbroker, hopes to raise awareness about the importance of organ donation.
She said: “Losing a child is something no mother wants to be confronted with. It’s so definite and there is no second chance.
“After we were told the devastating news, we were asked immediately if we would donate Russell’s organs.
“I could not waste a life so precious to us. He always went out of his way to help other people.
“I am sure that it would have been something he would have wanted.
“If we had not donated his organs there would be nothing, it would be like a void.
“Four people have benefited, and that is absolutely incredible.”
After being asked about organ donation Russell’s family were able to discuss their wishes in private and received support from Southampton General Hospital’s transplant team.
The family have received cards and letters from all four donor recipients and even met one of them – a schoolgirl who was given part of Russell’s liver.
“Receiving the letters means such as lot,” said Pauline.
“I feel it’s a gift from my son, and a priceless one.
“What has happened has been such a tragedy for our family, but the four people who have received his organs are doing really well.
“When we get letters from these people it brings us a lot of comfort.
“It means such a lot because my son is being acknowledged.
He has not been forgotten.”
Russell’s sister Claire, 25, a telecommunications worker said: “It helps us through our bad days.
It’s nice to read they are doing so fantastically.
“It makes us stronger reading those letters.”
Now the family is trying to raise awareness about the importance of organ donation in the hope that more people choose to register to become a donor.
Claire said: “If I was in the position of needing a transplant I would want one, so it would be selfish of me not to sign up.”
See panel below for how to register as an organ donor.
Becoming an organ donor is a simple task that can be done by phone, online or text. If you would like to register as an organ donor visitorgandonation.nhs.uk, call 0300 123 2323 or text SAVE to 84118.