NHS urges families to have a heart to heart about organ donation

The NHS is urging families across the county to have a heart-to-heart conversation about organ donation this Valentine’s Day.

More than 300 people, including 40 children, are currently waiting for a new heart, while the waiting list continues to grow.

Down 85% over the past decade to 313 as of March 2021, health bosses are calling on families to share their organ donation decisions to save more lives.

Anthony Clarkson, Director of Organ and Tissue Donation and Transplantation at NHS Blood and Transplant, said: ‘Thousands of people across the UK are waiting for the call that a donor has been found to save or transform their lives, and hundreds of them need a heart transplant. We encourage everyone to have this heart to heart now.

“Talk to your family and tell them your organ donation decision, let them be certain of that. And make sure you know what they would like too, so you can support their decision.

“This Valentine’s Day, have a heart to heart and share your organ donation decision to help save more lives.”

Even though organ donation law has now moved to an opt-out system in England, Wales and Scotland, many people are still unaware that families will always be consulted before organ donation. .

According to the NHS, only 43% of the UK population have recorded their decision in the NHS organ donor register, while only 38% say they have shared their organ donation decision with their family.

Ryan Gabb, 30, from Wrexham, has been on the heart transplant waiting list since May 2018. His life was turned upside down in September 2017 when he suddenly became very ill. He said: “I had been feeling bad for a few weeks, just general fatigue and flu-like symptoms that I couldn’t get rid of.

“It was getting progressively worse and I was starting to get short of breath too. Knowing something was wrong I borrowed a friend’s Fitbit to check my heart rate and it was over 100, I knew I had to get myself examine, so I left for work early and went to the doctors.

“The GP sent me straight to the local hospital where I was told I had dilated cardiomyopathy and would probably need a heart transplant.

“I couldn’t believe what I was hearing and I was in complete shock, I knew I was not well but I didn’t expect anything so bad.”

Ryan was monitored over the next few days, but five days later was airlifted to Manchester after suffering cardiogenic shock.

He was added to the urgent cardiac waiting list, but then had an emergency heart pump fitted – before being listed again for a transplant in May 2018.

He added: “I’m doing pretty well at the moment with the LVAD but waiting for a transplant can be difficult, there’s a constant need to have my phone with me and I need regular power to keep my LVAD batteries can be charged.

“Worry about power cuts is always in the back of my mind. I was told I might have a long wait for a heart that is hard to hear in my mid-twenties. I had to finish my job because it was quite physical.

“I hope the coming year brings some normality and I also hope more people will discuss organ donation with their family and record their decision. You never know when or who might need this help. .

“I was a regular blood donor and also joined the NHS organ donor register when I was 18. I thought both were important but I didn’t expect my life changes so much.”

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