Health Corner

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. 

‘My incredible husband donated everything he had to save the lives of others…We had never spoken about organ donation but a week before his accident he had ticked every box on the form when renewing his driving license. As a result he has given a grandmother his corneas, two people received his kidneys and his liver split between a 42 year old and a 7 year old.  His pancreas went to research. His heart valves went to babies. I just want to highlight how important it is, if possible, to write a little letter to the family who have lost their loved one.’

Camilla and Ethel (age 2). 

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. 

‘Without the strength of my wife, the NHS and a new liver, I would not be here today. I am lost for words when I think about the angel who donated their organ.  I cannot stress enough how important organ donation is being on the receiving end. Not only have I been given a second life, it has given my wife her husband, my parents their son, and my daughter her father. All I can do is pay it forward.’

Amit and Devangi.

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 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 &

Paediatric Consultant

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