Lynn’s Queen Elizabeth Hospital has a specialist team on hand to support the families of potential donors when the time comes, with many finding comfort in saving the life of another.
The Organ Donation Committee is made up of a team of specially-trained staff who oversee each stage of the donation process, while providing families with the answers they need.
Clinical care consultant, Dr John Gibson, has been involved in transplantation for 25 years and has worked within various units, before becoming a key figure at Lynn’s hospital.
He said: “Around five years ago, a government scheme required every hospital to have a donor unit and specialised staff, with plans to make donation routine.
“Most families know nothing about organ donation and that is the role of our specialist nurse. She is trained to support them and can answer any questions, spending as much time as they need talking about the whole process.
“Every case is individual and in this unit, we won’t override the final decision of the family. But many families take great comfort in something good coming out of the death of their loved one.”
There are four different ways that organs can be donated; live donation of organs including kidneys, or tissue donation, which is done after death and can include the corneas or bone.
The more common donation is of the major organs such as the kidneys, heart and liver following brain stem death. And finally, when a decision is made that the individual will not survive after a stroke or head injury – these organs can be donated after the heart has stopped beating.
With three people a day dying in need of a transplant, it is more important than ever to register for organ donation.
Dr Gibson said: “The life of someone waiting for a kidney transplant is very much tied to their condition – what they can eat, how much they can drink, dialysis all puts their life on hold.
“Liver failure can be a miserable condition and unlike kidney failure, it can’t be treated. But when they finally get the transplant, these people go from being practically disabled to living a normal life in a very short time.
“From one person’s death you can take two kidneys, heart, lungs, liver and much more. You could save five lives with these organs alone.”
He added: “For those who want to find out more about organ donation, the internet is a great thing. There is a great deal of information available on the National Transplant Week website and people can also register, or deregister, themselves if they wish.”