The campaign for this year’s Organ Donation Week from 20 – 26th September is ‘Leave Them Certain’ – the aim is to encourage people to talk to their loved ones about organ donation as families are always involved before the process can begin.
I have seen organ donation from several angles: as a paediatrician, talking to families of children who are dying as well as looking after children after transplants, and having friends who have had lifesaving donations or donated their loved ones’ organs.
The English law has changed to an opt out system, so you would now be considered if you are over 18 years, not opted out and not in an excluded group. You still have the choice and can amend your decision at any time. It is an important topic to talk to families about as hundreds of transplant opportunities are missed each year because families are not sure what to do.
UK statistics show that since April 2021 1,194 people have received a transplant, while 5,821 are waiting to receive one.
Who can donate?
Anyone can register to donate an organ after death, there is no age limit. A person needs to die in hospital in specific circumstances (only 1 in 100 people who die in the UK are usually able to be potential donors). There is a specialist group who decide on an individual basis on the suitability of donation at the time. Parents can register their children as well.
Exclusions are: Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease (CJD), Ebola, active cancer and HIV. If you can’t give blood, you can still potentially be an organ donor.
What can you donate?
You can have the option of donating the heart, lungs, liver, kidneys, pancreas, small bowel, cornea and tissue. You can also be a living donor for certain organs.
Who can you help?
There are many conditions that result in adults and children requiring new organs. These can include congenital conditions, which children are born with, or organ failure due to conditions such as infection, autoimmune disease or fibrosis.
Visit organdonation.nhs.uk for full details on how to register, to help you decide and how to talk to your family. Tel: 0300 123 23 23.
Dr. Yuheng Zhou
Teddington Resident &