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Words save lives - Let’s get talking about organ donation

06 September 2018

Does your family know whether you want to be an organ donor? Have you ever talked about organ donation with them?

If the answer is no, then you’re not alone; sadly, many donation opportunities are lost every year because families don’t know if their loved one wanted to be a donor or not. Family support is crucial to enable donations to take place.

With this in mind the Northern Trust is encouraging everyone to sign the Organ Donor Register and discuss their wishes with their family. Recent figures indicate that only 45% of people in Northern Ireland have signed the Organ Donation Register.

Alan Shields from Ballymena had a liver transplant and would urge everyone to sign the Organ Donor Register. Alan said: “I was lucky.  I got a call about my transplant at the last minute and it has worked.  It’s hard to believe and hard for me to put into words how I feel because somebody had to die for me to get my transplant.  I would like to express my gratitude and thanks to the relatives who allowed my transplant to go ahead.  It’s very courageous of them and it’s unbelievable that they made this happen for me.“Everyone should sign the Organ Donor Register as it may be one of their family tomorrow who needs an organ transplant”.

Leona Laverty, Organ Donation Specialist Nurse with the Northern Trust, said: “We are urging people in the Northern Trust area to have the conversation with their loved ones.  The number of people on the Organ Donor Register in this area is below the Northern Ireland average so we know that more can be done.  Evidence shows that consent rates increase where families have discussed organ donation wishes.  It’s so important that people sign the register, have the conversation and ultimately more people’s lives are saved as a result.“

There is a real shortage of organs in Northern Ireland.  At the end of May, 135 people here were waiting on a transplant.  The majority of people are waiting for a kidney or liver transplant but there are also people waiting for heart, lung and pancreas transplants.  Every year around 15 people in Northern Ireland die waiting for an organ transplant.

Anyone interested in organ donation should visit www.organdonation.nhs.uk or phone 0300 123 23 23.