Organ waiting lists: 460 NHS patients died before receiving transplant surgery

There are currently 6,414 patients waiting for organs

Samuel Osborne
Monday 04 September 2017 11:14
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Three families a week are saying no to organ donation because they did not know whether their relatives would have wanted to donate an organ or not
Three families a week are saying no to organ donation because they did not know whether their relatives would have wanted to donate an organ or not

Hundreds of patients are dying each year while waiting for an organ donation in the UK, health officials have warned.

Last year, 457 people died while waiting for new organs on the transplant list, NHS Blood and Transplant (NHSBT) said.

The organisation said during Organ Donation Week, which runs from Monday to Sunday this week, people should strike up a conversation with their loved ones to let them know whether they would like to be a donor.

There are currently 6,414 patients waiting for organs.

NHSBT said three families a week in the UK were saying no to organ donation because they did not know whether their relatives would have wanted to donate an organ or not.

It said that when families are left to make such a decision on their loved one's behalf, some decide it is safer to say no.

"It's a tragedy, hundreds of people are dying unnecessarily every year waiting for transplants," Anthony Clarkson, assistant director of organ donation for NHSBT, said.

"We know that if everyone who supported donation talked about it and agreed to donate, most of those lives would be saved.

"This Organ Donation Week tell your family you want to save lives. A few words now can make an extraordinary difference. It will also make things much easier for your family to make the right decision.

"If you want to save lives, don't leave it too late to talk to your family. If you want to be a donor, your family's support is still needed for donation to go ahead, even if you are on the NHS Organ Donor Register.

"And if you are unsure about donation, please ask yourselves as a family, what would you do if one of you needed a transplant? Would you accept a lifesaving organ? If you'd take an organ, shouldn't you be prepared to donate?"

The parents of a four-year-old who died while on the waiting list have urged people to discuss the topic.

Aoife O'Sullivan from Leigh-on-Sea in Essex died in March 2016 while waiting for a heart transplant. She needed a new heart after suffering heart failure from restrictive cardiomyopathy.

After she died, her parents chose to donate her kidneys.

Michelle O'Sullivan and Neil Forsyth have backed the NHSBT campaign to encourage people to talk about their wishes surrounding donation.

"Neil and I take comfort from that fact Aoife has given somebody more time with their loved ones. We feel very proud of Aoife," Ms O'Sullivan said.

"I would say to people 'put yourself in the shoes of someone waiting for a transplant'. If you are willing to accept an organ donation, it is only right that you should be willing to donate the special gift of life to another family."

Additional reporting by Press Association

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