Words save lives: Tell your family your organ donation wishes

Communications TeamNews

Patients waiting for life-saving transplants are dying because two-thirds of people in Hull have not told their families they want to donate their organs in the event of their deaths.

The organ donation team based at Hull Royal Infirmary and Castle Hill Hospital said time runs out for some patients because people forget to share their wishes to donate organs with their loved ones.

Today, at the start of Organ Donation Week, Specialist Nurse Alex Wray says only one third of the people in Hull who have signed the register have told their families.

She said: “Telling your family what you want to happen in the event of your death can protect them from having to try and guess what you would have wanted to do at the worst time of their lives.

“Talking about this now as a family will not only spare them additional grief, it will also mean something good can come out of your death and another family will be spared the heart-breaking loss of a loved one.”

Hull University Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust is celebrating its most successful year, with 60 transplants carried out after 33 families agreed their loved one’s organs could be used to save a life.

Trust staff also referred more patients to the organ donation team than other hospitals in the country, achieving a referral rate of 95 per cent compared to a national rate of 90 per cent.

In the last year, 1,574 people around the country donated their organs after their deaths and a further 1,051 became living donors. Together, they helped to save or transform the lives of 5,090 people.

However, 6,000 people are still waiting for an organ donation and three of those will die every day because there just aren’t enough donors.

Each person who agrees to donate their organs has the potential to save the lives of nine people.

Alex Wray said only a small percentage of the 25m people who have signed the register will actually die in circumstances which would make them suitable for organ donation.

However, hospitals still need the consent of your family even if you’d agreed to organ donation and have signed the register.

She said: “Many don’t realise we have to have permission from your family, even if this is something you have said you wanted. So, it is essential that you talk to your family so they are aware of your wishes and can act on your behalf when you can no longer express your own wishes and intentions.

“Don’t leave your family guessing what you want to happen. Spare them the agony of having to decide by having that conversation now.”