Organ shortage: three people will die today
Would you take a donated heart, liver or other organ if you needed one?
According to research from the NHS, most people say they would - 96%. Trouble is that only one in four of us - 27% - are actually signed up as donors. The result? More than 1,000 people die every year before they get the organ they need - that's three preventable deaths every day.
A poll of 1,500 people not on the organ donor register found 45% had good intentions to join but had not yet got round to it. Almost one in five (19%) said they needed to involve their family in the decision on whether to become an organ donor.
The UK has one of the lowest rates of organ donations in the developed world and the NHS is launching a campaign to persuade more of us to sign up. 'More transplants were carried out last year than ever before, but the need for organs never stops,' said Lynda Hamlyn of NHS Blood and Transplant. 'Many people have told us that they just need a nudge to motivate them to join the organ donor register and commit to helping someone live after their death.'
'By focusing on the gap between the number of us who say we would accept an organ if we needed one and the number who have actually joined the register, our campaign highlights the urgent need for those who believe in organ donation to act now.'
France has twice as many donors
In the UK, we have 12.9 donors registered per one million of population compared to 35.5 per million in Spain, 26.9 in the USA, 23.2 in France, 21.7 in Italy, 17.8 in the Netherlands and 15.3 in Germany.
In a paper to be published next month Professor John Saunders, chair of the Royal College of Physicians ethics committee will argue that the question of organ donation should be put on the electoral roll when adults register to vote to force us all to confront the issue. There would be three possible answers: yes, no and ask my relatives.
According to the NHS, many people wrongly think they are too old to sign up. Many people are also either unaware of the register or that they need to sign up by phone or online. Having an old donor card doesn't necessarily mean you have signed up.
Research also suggests that families are reluctant to donate with the most common reason a desire, in the words of University of Southampton researcher, Magi Sque, 'to protect the body'. While many agreed in principle, carried organ donor cards and knew their relatives desire to donate, they still didn't feel able to let their loved ones organs be used.
Lynda Hamlyn concludes: 'If you believe in organ donation, please register and let those closest to you know that you have done so.'
Page created on January 17th, 2010
Page updated on January 24th, 2012