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Families urged to talk openly about organ donations

Families urged to talk openly about organ donations

by Tom Martin (February 2021)

The NHS is launching a new campaign to urge local families to talk about organ donation following research that less than half of adults in England have had the conversation.

The Leave Them Certain campaign aims to highlight the impact not knowing has on the families who are left behind and encourage people talk about their decision. It follows the law change last year in England, which means that all adults are seen as willing to donate their organs, unless they opt out or are in one of the excluded groups.

In Merseyside, 513,283 people are currently on the NHS Organ Donor Register, with 32 people becoming donors in the last year, but the NHS needs more people to talk with their families about their decision. Many still don’t realise that families will still be approached before any donation goes ahead.

As part of the campaign, a new TV advert launched this week featuring the Kakkad family. Shivum’s father Bharat died from a cardiac arrest when he was 63 in May 2019, but the family had never spoken about organ donation.

The advert features family footage and memories of Bharat but ends with another memory - when they asked Shivum if his father wanted to be an organ donor and he just didn’t know.

Significantly, Shivum and his family did agree to organ donation, but it was a decision that could have been made easier if they’d had the conversation.

Research shows that the biggest barrier to talking about organ donation is that it’s never come up in conversation with 34% of people stating this as their reason. 27% say they are worried it will upset their family or make them feel uncomfortable, 24% feel they don’t need to tell anyone their decision, 22% don’t want to talk about their own death, 22% say they haven’t got round to it yet and 16% have never thought about organ donation before.

Anthony Clarkson, Director of Organ and Tissue Donation and Transplantation for NHS Blood and Transplant, said: “People often tell us that they struggle to find the right time or words to talk about organ donation, unfortunately we see first-hand the impact not knowing has on families when the first time they consider their loved ones wishes around organ donation is when they are seriously ill or have already died. Talk to your friends, talk to your family. Even though the law has changed, you can still sign up to the NHS Organ Donor Register to provide your family with added reassurance. Please don’t wait. Have the conversation today.”

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