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Organ Donation Week 2017: At least 15 people in our region die every year waiting for an organ transplant - and how you can help

An organ donation box arriving at a hospital for a transplant operation. Picture: SENT IN BY NHS BLOOD AND TRANSPLANT

An organ donation box arriving at a hospital for a transplant operation. Picture: SENT IN BY NHS BLOOD AND TRANSPLANT

SENT IN BY NHS BLOOD AND TRANSPLANT

New figures show more than 150 people in our region have died on the waiting list for an organ transplant over the past 10 years.

NHS Blood and Transplant revealed the tragic number of deaths to mark Organ Donation Week this week and is now urging people to tell their families they want to become donors.

Some 50 of those who died were in Norfolk, with 39 in Suffolk and 65 in Cambridgeshire. But hundreds of life saving transplants are being missed every year because families did not know what their relative wanted. And left to make the decision, 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 Norfolk, there are currently 53 people waiting for a transplant. In Suffolk there are 51 people on the list, while 54 people are waiting in Cambridgeshire. But they will only receive that life changing call if people make sure their families know they want to be a donor.

Anthony Clarkson, assistant director of organ donation and transplantation for NHS Blood and Transplant, said: “It’s a tragedy that people are dying unnecessarily every year waiting for transplants. We know that if everyone who supported donation talked about it and agreed to donate, most of those lives would be saved. This Organ Donation Week, tell your family you want to save lives. A few words now can make an extraordinary difference. It will also make things much easier for your family to make the right decision. If you want to save lives, don’t leave it too late to talk to your family.”

NHSBT nurse Marc Coe with empty transplant boxes showing missed opportunities. Photo: Richard Crease Photography NHSBT nurse Marc Coe with empty transplant boxes showing missed opportunities. Photo: Richard Crease Photography

There are nearly one million people on the NHS Organ Donor Register in the region - 348,000 in Norfolk, 278,000 in Suffolk and 367,000 in Cambridgeshire. But a family’s support is still needed. Although registering is a legally valid decision, in practice if your family strongly feel they cannot support donation, it does not go ahead. More than 500 families in the UK have said no to organ donation taking place since 1 April 2010 despite knowing or being informed their relative wanted to donate.

Mr Clarkson added: “If you are unsure about donation, ask yourselves as a family; what would you do if one of you needed a transplant? Would you accept a life-saving organ? If you’d take an organ, shouldn’t you be prepared to donate?”

How to register

NHS Blood and Transplant surveys show more than 80pc of people support organ donation but only around 49pc of people have ever talked about it.

Research shows women are 30pc 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 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.

To support Organ Donation Week click here or to register as an organ donor click here - it only takes two minutes to register and could save someone’s life.

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