With more than 10,000 people in the UK needing a transplant there is only 29% of the population registered as organ donors. This lack of donations means as many as 1000 people per year are dying before they get a transplant.
National Transplant Week gives the opportunity to focus for a week on promoting organ donation and why it is so important.
The long-term organ transplant benefits are invaluable. Not only does it give someone a second chance, transplants are less expensive than having to keep paying for medication that would ultimately only be a temporary solution.
NHS Highland Specialist Nurse for Organ Donation, Debbie Gallagher, explained that everyone can help raise awareness of organ donation and, by doing that, help save lives.
She said: “The theme of this year’s campaign is to ‘pass it on’. We want people to sign up the register and we really want them to tell their family and friends that they have done it.
“Not only will this help raise awareness but it is important that family and friends know of your views.
“In the UK organs and tissue from a potential donor will only be used if that is their wish. If your wishes are not clear, the person closest to you in life will be asked what they think you would have wanted, so it’s important that you make sure they’re aware of your wishes.”
Ms Gallagher said the number of people needing a transplant is expected to rise steeply due to an ageing population, an increase in kidney failure, and scientific advances which have improved patient care.
However, the number of organs available for transplant has remained static over the past few years. Only a very small number of people die in circumstances where they are able to donate their organs. Because organs have to be transplanted very soon after someone has died they can only be donated by someone who has died in hospital.
She said: “Would you take an organ if you needed one? Most of us, I’m sure, would. When someone dies, it's really hard to accept that they're gone. But knowing that a part of their loved one will help someone else will be a huge help for the person grieving.”
To register as an NHS Organ Donor please visit www.organdonation.nhs.uk. And remember to ‘pass it on’ to your family and friends.