This week marks Organ Donation Week (5th – 11th September), formally known as National Transplant Week. The initiative was set up to promote organ donation both nationally and locally. The NHS are calling for people to discuss their organ donation decision with their families, make people aware of the importance of donating and celebrate those who have already saved lives.

As becoming a donor is a very personal choice, they also want to make people aware that they can register as not wanting to become a donor. This will ensure that the decision is upheld in the event of death.

According to the NHS there are currently over 6,500 people on the transplant waiting list. Due to a shortage in organ donors, on average three people in need of a transplant die each day. An organ transplant may save a person’s life or significantly improve their health and quality of life, and there are always significantly more people waiting for a transplant than there are suitable donors. One organ donor can help several people as they can donate a number of organs, and all donors can choose which organs and tissues they wish to donate.

The NHS also says that there is a particular need for more people of African, African-Caribbean and South Asian ethnicities to join the NHS Organ Donor Register and agree to donate their organs in the event of their death. This is because donation rates among these ethnic groups are low but the need is great.

Sally Johnson, Director of Organ Donation and Transplantation said in a statement on the Organ Donor website: “We hope that people across the UK will get behind the week and the opportunity it presents to focus people’s attention on organ donation. People waiting for transplants depend on people being willing to donate their organs and sadly on average three people die every day across the UK due to a shortage of donated organs.”

“We know families are much more likely to support a relative’s decision to donate at a time of grief if they know that it is what their relative wanted.”

More information on organ donation can be found at www.organdonation.nhs.uk.

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