09 July 2012
Family Support For Organ Donation Doubles When Wishes Are Knowni – Pass It On
New figures released today to mark National Transplant Week show family support for organ
donation more than doubles when people know about their loved one’s wishes.
NHS Blood and Transplant (NHSBT) confirmed that family support rates in the UK jump from 41%ii when wishes about organ donation are not known to a massive 95%iii when they are known by the donor’s family .
This shows it is vital for families to talk about organ donation wishes so loved ones aren’t left to make the decision themselves at what is often an emotional time.
The figures also help explain why family agreement for organ donation in the UK is one of the lowest in Europe.
Research carried out by YouGoviv across the UK shows that over half of those surveyed (52%) haven’t passed on their organ donation wishes to friends and family. Less than half (48%) were aware that without family involvement their organs would not be passed on, even if they are on the NHS Organ Donor Register (ODR).
This year’s Transplant Week theme is ‘Pass it On’ - focusing not just on signing up to the ODR but also the importance of people talking about their wishes to family and friends so they know what they would like to happen after their death.
Liz Docker, a 54-year-old nurse from Ashbourne in Derbyshire, made the courageous decision to offer her 9-year-old son Simon’s organs for donation when he died of a devastating brain injury after being knocked down on a crossing near to their home in October 1994.
Liz and her husband Steve had discussed the concept of organ donation in simple terms with their children so they were confident it was what Simon would have wanted. Simon had described organ donation as the ultimate form of recycling!
"Personally, because I am a nurse and because of the conversation we’d had as a family about organ donation, the decision was not difficult. However, I do appreciate that other people might find it harder than we did. I would encourage them to think in terms of trying to get at least a small positive outcome from a tragic situation.
“It did take a long time to come to terms with the loss of our son but we have never regretted the decision to donate.
“There is not a single day when I don’t think about him and what he might be doing now – he would be 27 by now so I imagine him having been through university and pursuing a career."
Research also shows that of those who want to donate their organs and haven’t discussed their wishes with their loved ones:
- 50% just hadn’t got round to it
- 28% (one in three) didn’t think they needed to, and
- 18% (nearly a fifth) presumed their family knew their wishes.
Almost all (93%) of those who had spoken to their family about their organ donation wishes
admitted that the conversation was actually easy to have whilst the majority (88%) said they
NHSBT’s Director of Organ Donation and Transplantation, Sally Johnson, said:
“The family refusal rate for organ donation in the UK is one of the highest in Europe at 45%v and we know a large part of that is down to people not discussing their wishes with their families.
“We need to work with families to make donors’ wishes a reality. So, when people join the ODR they should tell those closest to them so that their wishes don’t come as a surprise at a time of bereavement. This could affect their decision to proceed with organ donation.”
Currently around 10,000 people need a transplant in the UK and three people die waiting every day. To add your name to the ODR please call 0300 123 2323, text JOIN 84880 or visit www.transplantweek.co.uk
For further information about National Transplant Week, go to http://www.transplantweek.co.uk/.
For further information please contact Pauline O’Brien at the NHSBT Press Office on 01923 367 600/email: firstname.lastname@example.org (Out of hours contacts: Pauline O’Brien 07872 636752 or 0117 969 2444) or Natalie Smith on 0207 025 6508/email email@example.com (Out of hours contacts: Lynsey Barry 07545 933 674/Rebecca Paxton 07912 041 731)
Notes to editors
- To add your name to the NHS Organ Donor Register, please call 0300 123 2323, text JOIN to 84880 or visit www.transplantweek.co.uk
- NHS Blood and Transplant (NHSBT) is a joint England and Wales Special Health Authority. Its remit includes the provision of a reliable, efficient supply of blood and associated services to the NHS in England and North Wales. It is also the organ donor organisation for the UK and is responsible for matching and allocating donated organs
- The NHS Organ Donor Register records the details of people who have registered their wishes to donate organs and/or tissue after their death for transplantation. After someone has died, this information is checked by authorised medical staff to establish whether a person wanted to donate
- Anyone can register on the NHS Organ Donor Register. Age is not a barrier to being an organ or tissue donor and neither are most medical conditions. People in their 70s and 80s have become organ donors and saved many lives. The oldest recorded cornea donor was 102 years old
- One donor can save or transform up to nine lives and many more can be helped through the donation of tissues
- Between April 2010 - March 2011, more than 7,300 organ and cornea transplants were carried out in the UK, thanks to the generosity of deceased and living donors - the highest on record.
- The national Potential Donor Audit (PDA) commenced in 2003 as part of a series of measures to improve organ donation. The principal aim of this audit was to determine the potential number of solid organ donors in the UK. The current PDA collects information on patient deaths in ICUs and emergency departments but excludes cardiothoracic ICUs. Patients aged 76 years or over are also excluded from the national audit criteria.
iiUK Potential Donor Audit (PDA) 2011/12
iiiUK Potential Donor Audit (PDA) 2011/12
ivUnless otherwise stated, research carried out by YouGov PLC. Total sample size was 2111 adults. Fieldwork was undertaken between 1st - 6th June 2012. The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all UK adults (aged 18+).
vUK Potential Donor Audit (PDA) 2011/12