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Oxfordshire families urged to talk about organ donation


Oxford University Hospitals and NHS Blood and Transplant are urging people to talk to their families about organ donation to increase the number of people whose lives can be saved or transformed by an organ transplant.

This week (Monday 7 to Sunday 13 September 2020) is Organ Donation Week 2020, a week-long celebration of organ donation across the UK and an opportunity to highlight how the law around organ donation has changed.

In the year 2019/20, there were 19 donors in Oxfordshire who helped save or improve the lives of 36 people. Around 340,000 people in the county were on the NHS Organ Donor register at the end of July 2020.

However, over the last five years (between April 2015 and March 2020), 27 people in Oxfordshire have died while waiting for an appropriate donor.

Since May 2020, the law around organ donation (known as Max and Keira's Law) has changed in England to help save and improve more lives.

All adults are now considered as having agreed to donate their own organs when they die, unless they record a decision not to donate, are in one of the excluded groups, or have told their family that they don't want to donate.

Families will still be involved before organ donation goes ahead, so it is important donors share their decision with family or closest friends, and record it on the NHS Organ Donor Register.

This week, doctors and specialist nurses at Oxford University Hospitals are urging families across the county to talk about their organ donation decision and make sure their loved ones are aware, as families will continue to be approached before organ donation goes ahead.

Ali Smith, Transplant Nurse Practitioner based at the Churchill Hospital, said: "Knowing what your relative wanted helps families support their decision around organ donation at what is often a difficult time. We need more people across Oxfordshire to talk about organ donation to increase the number of lifesaving transplants.

"These conversations are especially important for local residents from BAME backgrounds. People from these communities are more likely to need a transplant, however, and often wait longer as the best match will often come from someone of the same ethnicity."

At Oxford University Hospitals, organ donation usually occurs at the John Radcliffe Hospital and the transplant recipient operations take place at the Churchill Hospital.

Habiba Ahmed, Specialist Nurse in Organ Donation based at the John Radcliffe Hospital, said: "We need more people in Oxfordshire to talk about organ donation to increase the number of lifesaving transplants.

"While most people agree that it is important to talk to their family about organ donation, it is less likely that they will have actually had this important conversation.

"Sadly, many opportunities are lost every year because families don't know if their loved one wanted to be a donor or not. Please don’t wait. Speak to your family about organ donation today."

Anthony Clarkson, Director of Organ Donation and Transplantation for NHS Blood and Transplant said: "We are very grateful to Oxford University Hospitals for its support during Organ Donation Week.

"Even now the law has changed, families will continue to be approached before organ donation goes ahead. It remains so important to talk to your families and ensure they know what you would want to happen.

"Register your organ donation decision on the NHS Organ Donor Register and tell your family the choice you have made. If the time comes, we know families find the organ donation conversation with nurses or medical teams much easier if they already know what their relative wanted."

People can find out more and register their decision by visiting the NHS Organ Donor Register – and please share your decision with your family.