National Transplant Week

Monday, 07 Sep 2015

Nation urged to break silence on organ donation and Say Yes I Donate this National Transplant Week (7th - 13th September 2015)

16.9 million people - a third of UK adults - admit they haven't considered organ donation or decided if they want to be an organ donor, NHS Blood and  Transplant reveals.

And 4.1 million people who do want to donate their organs when they die say they haven't talked to a loved one about that decision.*

Across the UK there are 10,000 people in need of a transplant. Last year the number of people donating organs fell for the first time in 11 years.  The UK also has one of the lowest rates in Europe for families consenting to organ donation and in 2014/15 only 58% agreed to donate their family members'  organs after they died.

This National Transplant Week NHS Blood and Transplant wants to get the whole nation talking about organ donation and the importance of sharing decisions  on being an organ donor with family and close friends. The Seven Days to Say Yes I Donate campaign aims to help break down barriers and taboos around organ  donation.

Anthony Clarkson, NHS Blood and Transplant's Assistant Director for Organ Donation and Nursing said: "Every day three people die in need of a transplant. Yet  across the UK 1 in 3 adults haven’t considered organ donation or decided whether they want to be an organ donor.

"To save more lives we need more donors. To raise that number we really need everyone to understand the importance of not being complacent. We need to get to  the point where organ donation is high on the list of important personal conversations we routinely have with loved ones."

The National Transplant Week survey found that, as a nation, we are happy to talk about many personal topics, yet we are avoiding conversations that could  mean the difference between life and death for someone in need of an organ transplant:

  • 7 in 10 adults have told a loved one how they would spend a lottery win
  • Almost two thirds have discussed their preference for burial or cremation
  • Nearly half have confided the part of their body they would most like to change
  • 47% have shared destinations they dream of travelling to before they die

Even among those who want to be organ donors, there is reluctance to talk about the subject - with key reasons being discomfort around talking about death  and not wanting to upset family members.

Reluctance to talk about organ donation means many healthy organs that could be donated aren't used.

Anthony Clarkson added: "As a nation we're happy sharing dreams of big money wins and bucket-list holidays, and we'll confide in our loved ones our worries  about how we look. Yet too many of us are still not making the time or are not comfortable talking about organ donation.

"Telling your loved ones you want to be an organ donor means your family will be in no doubt about your decision meaning your wishes will be fulfilled  should you die in circumstances where organ donation is possible.

"Over the next seven days we'd like everyone to give a few minutes of their time to think about organ donation and talk about whether they want to be an  organ donor with their relatives or a close friend."

Of those who have had a conversation about organ donation with a loved one an overwhelming 93% said it was an easy conversation to have - although nearly a  quarter (23%) admitted that chat was over five years ago.

NHS Blood and Transplant is working with partners to help raise awareness and get involved in the Seven Days to Say Yes I Donate campaign:

  • Go to www.organdonation.nhs.uk to find out more information
  • Show your support for organ donation on social media during National Transplant Week by posting about your conversations using #sayidonate
  • Twitter @nhsorgandonor #sayidonate
  • Facebook: www.facebook.com/organdonationUK
  • Instagram @nhsorgandonor
  • Youtube: /www.youtube.com/user/nhsorgandonation

*Populus interviewed a random sample of 2,072 UK adults aged 18+ by online survey between 5-6th August 2015.  Surveys were conducted across the country and the  results have been weighted to the profile of all adults.  Populus is a founder member of the British Polling Council and abides by its rules. Further information  at www.populus.co.uk.

  • When asked 'Do you want to donate your organs after death' 50% of all respondents answered yes, 16% no, 11% never thought about it and 23% don't know.
  • Respondents who said they want to be organ donors, both those who have joined the Organ Donor Register and those who have not were asked if they have  told a loved one about their decision. Of those on the Organ Donor Register, 9% said they had not told a loved one, and of those not on the Organ Donor  Register, 47% said they had not told a loved one.

For more information, or to request a case study please NHS Blood and Transplant Press Office on 01923 367600 or via pressoffice@nhsbt.nhs.uk

Notes for Editors

  • NHS Blood and Transplant (NHSBT) is a joint England and Wales Special Health Authority. Its remit includes the provision of a reliable, efficient supply of  blood and associated services to the NHS in England and North Wales. It is also the organ donor organisation for the whole of the UK and is responsible for  matching and allocating donated organs.
  • 21.1 million people in the UK have already signed onto the NHS Organ Donor Register.  These people have joined the Register to record their decision to  donate organs and/or tissue after their death for transplantation. This information is used by authorised medical staff to establish whether a person wanted to  donate. A newly build ODR has just been launched in the UK. This also gives registrants the option to register a decision not to donate their organs or to  nominate others to make the decision for them after their death.
  • It's simple to join the ODR by:
    • going to www.organdonation.nhs.uk
    • ringing 0300 123 23 23
  • Anyone can register on the ODR. Age isn't a barrier to being an organ or tissue donor and neither are most medical conditions. People in their 70s and 80s  have become donors and saved many lives.
  • One donor can save or transform up to 9 lives and many more can be helped through the donation of tissues.