Dont have an account?Sign up here
9 July 2012
New figures released today to mark National Transplant Week show family support for organ donation more than doubles when people know about their loved one's wishes.
NHS Blood and Transplant (NHSBT) confirmed that family support rates in the UK jump from 41%ii when wishes about organ donation are not known to a massive 95%iii when they are known by the donor's family .
This shows it is vital for families to talk about organ donation wishes so loved ones aren't left to make the decision themselves at what is often an emotional time.
The figures also help explain why family agreement for organ donation in the UK is one of the lowest in Europe.
Research carried out by YouGoviv across the UK shows that over half of those surveyed (52%) haven't passed on their organ donation wishes to friends and family. Less than half (48%) were aware that without family involvement their organs would not be passed on, even if they are on the NHS Organ Donor Register (ODR).
This year's Transplant Week theme is 'Pass it On' - focusing not just on signing up to the ODR but also the importance of people talking about their wishes to family and friends so they know what they would like to happen after their death.
Liz Docker, a 54-year-old nurse from Ashbourne in Derbyshire, made the courageous decision to offer her 9-year-old son Simon's organs for donation when he died of a devastating brain injury after being knocked down on a crossing near to their home in October 1994.
Liz and her husband Steve had discussed the concept of organ donation in simple terms with their children so they were confident it was what Simon would have wanted. Simon had described organ donation as the ultimate form of recycling!
Liz, said:"Personally, because I am a nurse and because of the conversation we'd had as a family about organ donation, the decision was not difficult. However, I do appreciate that other people might find it harder than we did. I would encourage them to think in terms of trying to get at least a small positive outcome from a tragic situation.
“It did take a long time to come to terms with the loss of our son but we have never regretted the decision to donate.
“There is not a single day when I don't think about him and what he might be doing now – he would be 27 by now so I imagine him having been through university and pursuing a career."
Research also shows that of those who want to donate their organs and haven't discussed their wishes with their loved ones:
50% just hadn't got round to it
28% (one in three) didn't think they needed to, and
18% (nearly a fifth) presumed their family knew their wishes.
Almost all (93%) of those who had spoken to their family about their organ donation wishes admitted that the conversation was actually easy to have whilst the majority (88%) said they were supportive.
NHSBT's Director of Organ Donation and Transplantation, Sally Johnson, said:“The family refusal rate for organ donation in the UK is one of the highest in Europe at 45%v and we know a large part of that is down to people not discussing their wishes with their families.
“We need to work with families to make donors' wishes a reality. So, when people join the ODR they should tell those closest to them so that their wishes don't come as a surprise at a time of bereavement. This could affect their decision to proceed with organ donation.”
Currently around 10,000 people need a transplant in the UK and three people die waiting every day. To add your name to the ODR please call 0300 123 2323, text JOIN 84880 or visit www.transplantweek.co.uk
For further information about National Transplant Week, go to http://www.transplantweek.co.uk/.