An appeal for people across the Fylde coast to sign up to the organ donation register was made today – after it was revealed nearly 1,300 people in the North West are waiting for an organ transplant.
Figures from NHS Blood and Transplant also show that 36 people in the region died last year while waiting for organs because of a shortage of donations.
Greg Bleakley, specialist nurse for organ donation in the North West, is encouraging people across the coast to make their wishes regarding organ donation known to their families.
At present, a family can veto their loved one’s desire to have their organs donated even if they have signed the register.
Mr Bleakley said: “Only about 5,000 people die each year in circumstances where they could donate organs and even then we have an astonishingly high family refusal rate.
“The reasons family refuse this are not only grief, but I think sometimes it’s the timing and knowing when it’s appropriate to ask the question, but all that is made easier if we know what the wishes of that person would be in life.
“To have that conversation with your family is without doubt the most powerful thing to do to combat this.”
Recent independent research revealed 90 per cent of the British population are in favour of organ donation, but only 30 per cent are currently on the register.
Mr Bleakley added: “There’s a great deal of work that needs to be done to address this so the more donors that come forward, the easier it will be.”
Anthony Clarkson, acting director of Organ Donation and Transplantation at NHS Blood and Transplant, said: “Some 267 people in the North West have received a life-saving organ transplant from a deceased donor this year.
“To help save more people we need everyone, including the 2,039,524 on the NHS Organ Donor Register in the North West, to talk to their loved ones about their donation decision.”
In a separate piece of research carried out in England, only 31 per cent of families said they would agree to donation going ahead if they are unaware of their loved one’s decision to donate.
To join the NHS Organ Donor Register visit www.organdonation.nhs.uk or call 0300 123 23 23.