15 people in Northern Ireland die each year while waiting for an organ transplant yet only 28% of people living in the Causeway Coast and Glens Borough have signed the Organ Donor Register.
Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council would like to see this number increase and is supporting an ongoing campaign to encourage more people to join the register.
What is organ or tissue donation?
Donation is giving an organ or tissue to help someone who needs a transplant. Transplants can save or greatly enhance the lives of other people. But this relies on donors and their families agreeing to donate their organ or tissue.
The number of people waiting on a life saving transplant is expected to rise due to our aging population, an increase in obesity, an increase in kidney failure, and scientific advances which mean that more people are now able to benefit from a transplant.
In addition, fewer than 5000 people each year die in circumstances where they can become a donor. Because organs have to be transplanted very soon after death they can only be donated by someone who has died in hospital. Usually these patients are on a ventilator in the Intensive Care Unit or the Emergency Department, and are declared brain dead or die despite medical treatment – generally as a result of a brain haemorrhage, major accident like a car crash, or a stroke.
Another reason for the major shortage of organs is that many people have not recorded their decision to be a donor after they die by joining the NHS Organ Donor Register or discussed their decision with their families.
Organs that can be donated after death include the heart, lungs, kidneys, liver, pancreas and small bowel. Tissue such as corneas and heart valves can also be used to help others.
While only a few people die in circumstances which would enable their organs to be donated, many people can donate tissue after their death. The best time to donate tissues for example; corneas and heart valves is within 24 hours after someone has died.
Organs and tissue from a donor will only be used with their consent or with their family’s consent after they die. You can give your consent by:
• Joining the NHS Organ Donor Register, or
• Telling a relative or close friend about your decision to donate
Everyone can join the NHS Organ Donor Register regardless of age, as long as they are:
• Legally capable of making the decision, and
• Live in the UK.
You can also phone 0300 123 23 23 or pick up a form, fill in the details and return it by post.
And don’t forget to discuss your decision with your family and friends.