The number of people who have donated organs in the UK has fallen for the first time in more than a decade.
The shock figures released today by NHS Blood and Transplant have prompted a call for more donors after they revealed a five per cent drop in organ donation in the last year compared to 2013/14.
Statistics from the Organ Donation and Transplantation Activity Report 2014/15 show there were 4,431 transplants compared with 4,655 in the year previous – meaning 224 fewer people received an organ transplant.
It is thought the drop is linked to fewer people dying in circumstances where they could donate and no increase in the rate of people consenting to their organs being used after death by signing to the NHS Organ Donor Register.
In Yorkshire there were 19.7 donors per million of the population last year, which is below the national average, prompting further calls for families to discuss death and wishes for organ donation.
Gordon Crowe, team manager at the Yorkshire Organ Donation Services Team, said: “The transplant waiting list, although it has decreased over the years, still has 7,000 people waiting for a lifesaving transplant. It’s still imperative that people sign up because those patients are still in need of a transplant. It’s a simple fact that organ donation saves lives.”
He added that nationally 2013/14 was “almost an outstanding” year for organ donation, which explains the year-on-year drop, while regionally there was a marginal rise in the number of deceased donors last year.
The Yorkshire Evening Post is currently backing the Be A Hero campaign led by Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust, which is encouraging people in the county to sign the organ donor register.
It was sparked after it emerged that just 114 people in Yorkshire donated organs last year as around 800 people in the region await lifesaving transplants. Three people a day die waiting for a transplant nationally.
Catherine Gregson, from Bramley, Leeds, is supporting the campaign after her 19-year-old daughter Emma Witty donated her organs two years ago.
The aspiring photographer’s organs saved the lives of six people and rescued the sight of four others following her tragic death as a result of a bleed on the brain.
Ms Gregson, 51, said: “I don’t understand the drop in donations to be honest – if you can help anybody out you should.
“The main point for me was if Emma ever needed an organ I would have done anything. People are dying needlessly and there’s something we can all do about it – sign the register.”
NHS Blood and Transplant’s report warned that the consent rate for organ donation remains “stubbornly” below 60 per cent, and unless there is a revolution in attitudes people will continue to die waiting for transplants.
Director of organ donation and transplantation at the organisation, Sally Johnson, said: “We understand that families are expected to consider donation in their darkest hour so we would remind everyone to tell those closest to you now if you want to donate your organs – and then record that decision on the NHS Organ Donor Register. Should the time come, your family will know you want to donate your organs to help to save others.”
HOW TO GET INVOLVED
We’re urging residents to sign the NHS Organ Donor Register and become a hero.
To raise the profile of Be A Hero we’re also urging workplaces and communities to support the campaign through anything from putting up a Be A Hero poster to hosting a superhero day. You can even download a #BeAHero mask from leedsth.nhs.uk/be-a-hero and tweet your superhero selfies to @Leedsnews and @LTHTrust using the hashtag #BeAHero.
Supporters can also send #BeAHero messages of support to facebook.com/yep.newspaper or send their tales of organ donation via email to firstname.lastname@example.org.