West Norfolk residents urged to talk about organ donations

King's Lynn's Queen Elizabeth Hospital's Chief Executive Jon Green is supporting the campaign to raise awareness of organ donations. Photo: SUBMITTED.
King's Lynn's Queen Elizabeth Hospital's Chief Executive Jon Green is supporting the campaign to raise awareness of organ donations. Photo: SUBMITTED.

Families in Norfolk are being urged to talk about organ transplants after new figures show 50 people have died while on the waiting list in the county in the past 10 years.

Families in Norfolk are being urged to talk about organ transplants after new figures show 50 people have died while on the waiting list in the county in the past 10 years.

Specialist nurse at King's Lynn's Queen Elizabeth Hospital Marika Valiaho is promoting the importance of sharing your organ donation wishes with loved ones. Photo: SUBMITTED.

Specialist nurse at King's Lynn's Queen Elizabeth Hospital Marika Valiaho is promoting the importance of sharing your organ donation wishes with loved ones. Photo: SUBMITTED.

NHS Blood and Transplant revealed the statistics to coincide with Organ Donation Week and it is now asking people to tell their families they want to become donors.

According to the organisation, hundreds of life-saving transplants are being missed every year because families are unaware of what their relatives wanted.

Left to make the decision for someone they love, families often decide it is safer to say no.

The reluctance to talk about the issue is contributing to a deadly shortage of organs, the public body says.

In Norfolk, there are currently 53 people waiting for a transplant, and they will only receive that life-changing call if people make sure their families know they want to be a donor.

Anthony Clarkson, assistant director of organ donation and transplantation for NHS Blood and Transplant, said: “It’s a tragedy that people are dying unnecessarily every year in Norfolk waiting for transplants.

“We know that if everyone who supported donation talked about it and agreed to donate, most of those lives would be saved.

“This Organ Donation Week, tell your family you want to save lives. A few words now can make an extraordinary difference. It will also make things much easier for your family to make the right decision.

“If you want to save lives, don’t leave it too late to talk to your family.

“In Norfolk there are more than 348,000 people on the NHS Organ Donor Register. However if you want to be a donor, your family’s support is still needed for donation to go ahead.

“If you are unsure about donation, please ask yourselves as a family, what would you do if one of you needed a transplant? Would you accept a life-saving organ? If you’d take an organ, shouldn’t you be prepared to donate?”

NHS Blood and Transplant surveys show more than 80 per cent of people support organ donation but only around 49 per cent of people have ever talked about it.

The organisation wants everyone in Norfolk to be able to save lives through organ donation and not be prevented from doing so because they have not told a relative their decision.

To support Organ Donation Week, visit: www.nhsbt.nhs.uk/get-involved/promoting-donation-hub.

Meanwhile, staff at Lynn’s Queen Elizabeth Hospital are also helping to raise awareness of the need for donors.

Specialist nurse in organ donation Marika Valiaho, who covers the QEH, is encouraging more people to take time to think about organ donation and if they would like to go on to save lives if they were ever in this position.

Marika is also emphasising the importance of sharing your decision with those you are close to.

She said: “Families who are aware of their loved ones’ wishes in regards to organ donation find it easier to support them than those who have not had talked about this in the past.

“We are encouraging people to take a couple of minutes to share with their families what they would like to happen in that situation.”

Chief executive of the QEH Jon Green has also lent his support to Organ Donation Week.

He said: “With 6,414 people currently on the waiting list for a transplant, it is important that we all make the effort to share our wishes with partners, children and parents.”

If you would like to become an organ donor, go to: www.organdonation.nhs.uk.

Pictured is specialist nurse Marika Valiaho. Photo: SUBMITTED.