One person’s organ donation can save up to nine lives. Isn’t it amazing?
SIMON JUPP IS THE CONSERVATIVE MP FOR EAST DEVON
A variety of questions cross my desk daily, but at a recent constituency surgery meeting, one fact really stuck with me. One person’s organ donation can save up to nine lives. Isn’t it amazing?
However, organ donation is something few of us think about or discuss with our close friends and family.
Until there comes a time when we or someone we know needs a transplant or a loved one dies. These discussions can often be emotionally charged situations clouded by uncertainty.
On May 20, 2020, organ donation law in England changed. Since then, it is considered that you agree to become an organ donor upon your death if you are over 18 and have not opted out.
This change is due in part to the dedicated campaigning efforts of individuals across our country. At Exmouth, Cllr Steve Gazzard worked tirelessly to make a difference. His own experience of personal tragedy led him to lead a concerted effort to stress the need for more donors on the registry. You would often see Steve outside the Magnolia Center on a Saturday and I always enjoyed our conversations. His efforts helped over 8,000 people register at Exmouth to become organ donors before the law changed.
On an emotional level, it can be difficult to come to terms with the idea of donating all your organs when you die. This can seem intimidating for people of certain faiths and beliefs. There is complete flexibility when choosing which organs to donate – you can choose to donate some or all of your organs such as your heart, lungs, liver, kidneys, pancreas and small intestine. All of these forms of giving can greatly improve or even save the life of someone in need.
Despite the opt-out system, your family can still override your decision if they don’t know what you want. Indeed, your family will always be consulted to find out whether you want to be an organ donor or not, and clinicians will never proceed with organ donation if your family or loved ones object.
In fact, in many cases, the family does not know what the wishes of the deceased were. Even if the deceased was content to be a donor, if the donor is not registered or if relatives do not accept the donation, the opportunity to save or improve someone’s life other is missed despite well-meaning intentions.
If you wish to become an organ donor after your death, it is important that you discuss this with your loved ones and make sure that they understand and support your decision to donate organs. You can also register your decision on the NHS Organ Donor Register.
The number of patients waiting for a transplant has increased in recent years. Changing the law by the government is one way to reverse the trend.
NHS awareness campaigns, such as Organ Donation Week every September, are also important, which will keep the momentum going. NHS Blood and Transplant has introduced prompts for organ donation when applying for a driving license or taxing a car.
I believe getting the message out to young people helps families have those important conversations. Organ donation and transplantation are now taught as part of the secondary school curriculum to raise awareness among young people. Educational resources have been provided in all publicly funded secondary schools for blood, organ and stem cell donation. The first discussions between families can easily be stimulated by a child coming home from school and talking about what he has learned in class.
Here in East Devon we can play our part to help others in need. I encourage you to register your decision on organdonation.nhs.uk and have this conversation with your loved ones so they have the certainty they need, which could help save a life.