Urgent appeal for Oxfordshire families to talk about organ donation

Have you signed the Organ Donation register?
Have you signed the Organ Donation register?

Families in Oxfordshire are being urged to talk about organ donation as new figures show 27 people from the county have died waiting for a transplant in the last five years.

Tragically, despite the fact more and more people are supporting donating their loved one’s organs, there is still an urgent need for more people to support donation.

NHS Blood and Transplant is now urging more people in Oxfordshire to tell their families that they want to save lives through organ donation during Organ Donation Week (September 3 to 9).

Anthony Clarkson, interim director of organ donation and transplantation for NHS Blood and Transplant, said: “It’s tragic that so many people from Oxfordshire have died waiting for a transplant.

“What is shocking is that many of those lives could have been saved, had more families agreed to donate organs.

“People are dying every day because some families are not talking about donation. We need more families in Oxfordshire to say yes to organ donation, so that more lives can be saved.”

Last year, 57 people in Oxfordshire had their lives saved by a transplant – if more people agreed to donate, more lives would be saved in Oxfordshire and around the country, according to the NHS.

Although the number of donors is increasing, and the waiting lists are reducing, right now there are around 6,000 people waiting for a lifesaving organ transplant across the UK.

During Organ Donation Week, the NHS is urging families to talk about donation with the message – ‘words save lives’.

Councils and organisations around the country are lighting prominent buildings pink, which is the colour of the modern donor card, in support of the country’s organ donation campaign.

The Oxford Transplant Centre at The Churchill Hospital, carried out 193 transplants between January and August this year.

The centre is one of only two adult intestinal transplant centres in the UK, and the only centre in the world that performs modified multivisceral transplant for patients with a rare type of abdominal cancer – this is when a patient receives a stomach, duodenum, pancreas, small intestine, and if necessary, a liver.

The John Radcliffe Hospital is home to the Oxford Cell and Tissue Biobank, which has grown from a heart valve tissue bank into a multi-tissue bank, and works in partnership between various specialities in the Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, University of Oxford, and the Oxford Fertility Unit.

The Oxford Cell and Tissue Biobank is home to the innovative Oxford Reproductive Tissue Cryopreservation service, which freezes reproductive tissue from young people diagnosed with cancer – ultimately preserving their fertility for later life.

The Oxford Blood Donor Centre is also based at the John Radcliffe Hospital, where people can quickly and easily donate blood.

Blood donations are used for procedures like transfusions to treat medical conditions like cancer and anaemia, or to treat blood loss after childbirth or emergency surgery.

Dr Mark Sullivan, clinical director for renal, transplant, and urology at the Trust, said: “If one person donates their organs, they can transform up to nine lives.

“Anyone can sign up as a donor on the NHS Organ Donor Register - having an illness or long-term condition doesn’t prevent you from registering as an organ and tissue donor.

“Even if you can’t donate your organs, most people can still donate tissue which is just as important – donated tissues, like eye and heart valve tissue, can be just as beneficial.

“Many families take comfort in knowing that some good came out of their loss, and feel proud that their loved one went on to help others when they died.

“We’re here to support families during their time of need – both those donating organs, and those receiving them.”

The Trust will be hosting a promotional stall outside the League of Friends Café at the John Radcliffe Hospital between 10am and 1pm on Wednesday (September 5) as part of Organ Donation Awareness Week.

Visitors can talk to specialist nurses, find out more information on organ donation, and sign up to the Organ Donor Register.

To join the NHS Organ Donor Register or to find out more information, visit www.organdonation.nhs.uk.