Would-be organ donors urged to tell family of transplant wishes
NHS Blood and Transplant (NHSBT) said that across the UK, three families a week were saying no to organ donation because they did not know whether their relatives would have wanted to.
It said that when families are left to make such a decision on their loved one’s behalf, some decide it is safer to say no.
Now, the organisation has encouraged people to talk to family members during Organ Donation Week.
The reluctance to talk about the issue is contributing to a deadly shortage of organs, NHSBT said.
Last year, 457 people died while on the active transplant waiting list and a further 875 people were removed from the list, mainly due to ill health – many will have died shortly after being taken off.
On 25 August, there were 6,414 people in need of a new organ on the transplant waiting list.
The parents of a four-year-old who died on the waiting list have also urged people to discuss the topic. Aoife O’Sullivan from Leigh-on-Sea in Essex died in March 2016 while waiting for a heart transplant.
The youngster suffered heart failure from restrictive cardiomyopathy – a rare condition which stiffens the heart muscle and stops the organ from pumping properly.
After she died, her parents chose to donate her kidneys for transplant.
Parents Michelle O’Sullivan and Neil Forsyth, have backed the NHSBT campaign to encourage people to talk about their wishes surrounding donation.
Ms O’Sullivan said: “If you are willing to accept an organ donation, it is only right that you should be willing to donate the special gift of life to another family.”
Anthony Clarkson, assistant director of organ donation for NHSBT, said: “We know that if everyone who supported donation talked about it and agreed to donate, most of those lives would be saved.”