5 September 2019

Organ Donation Week – why it’s so important to talk about it

Members of the East Sussex Healthcare Organ Donation Committee are encouraging people across the county to talk about organ donation with their families.

During Organ Donation Week (2nd to 8th September), people are being asked to discuss with their family – “what you would do if one of you needed a transplant: would you accept a life-saving organ? If you’d accept an organ, would you also be prepared to donate to save lives when you die?”

Jackie Churchward-Cardiff, ESHT Organ Donation Chair, said: “Organ Donation week is a timely reminder to people to talk to their family about what they want in the event of their death, and if they would wish to give the gift of their organs to benefit others. These conversations are a part of life and it is important that decisions regarding donation are understood and shared. A family’s knowledge of their relative’s wishes does make an extraordinary difference.”

In the UK, three people die every day while waiting for a lifesaving organ transplant. From spring 2020, organ donation in England will move to an ‘opt out’ system. Also referred to as ‘Max and Keira’s Law’. This means that all adults in England will be considered to have agreed to be an organ donor when they die unless they have recorded a decision not to donate or are in one of the excluded groups such as being under the age of 18 or lacking mental capacity. You will still have a choice if you want to be an organ donor or not when you die.

The details of people who want to donate their organs when they die are held on the NHS Organ Donor Register, a confidential national database. However agreement is still needed from the donor’s family to honour the donor’s wishes after death.

Anyone can join the register by visiting the organ donation website www.organdonation.nhs.uk/how_to_become_a_donor/registration or calling the NHS Donor Line on 0300 123 23 23.