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NHS Campaigns for Families in Surrey to Boost Organ Donations

Published on: 15 Feb, 2021
Updated on: 16 Feb, 2021

An NHS campaign to increase organ donation is being launched in Surrey after research showed fewer than half of adults in England have talked to their families about it.

The Leave Them Certain campaign aims to highlight the impact not knowing has on bereaved families and encourage people talk about their decision. Last year, a law change in England left all adults seen as potential organ donors, unless they specifically opt out or are in an excluded group.

Of Surrey’s 1.2 million population, 540,809 are on the Organ Donor Register, with 36 agreeing to be donors in the past year, but the NHS needs more people to talk with their families about their decision. Many still fail to realise families will still be approached before donation.

Shivum Kakkad

Last week, a TV advert was launched featuring the Kakkad family. Shivum’s father Bharat died from a cardiac arrest aged 63 in May, 2019, but the family had never spoken together about organ donation.

The advert shows family memories of Bharat but ends with another memory, when Shivum was asked if his father wanted to be an organ donor. He didn’t know.

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

He said: “My father was a very giving person. He did charity work and was a strong believer in the Hindu act of Sewa, of service to God. When the specialist nurse approached us about organ donation, we made our decision.

“We knew helping others in need was what my father would have wanted. But I wish we had spoken about it to know for certain and I would urge others to take the opportunity while they still can.”

Shivum hopes that by sharing their family’s story, they will encourage more families, particularly from Asian and other ethnic backgrounds, to support and talk about organ donation.

The number of donors is increasing, but more are needed because often the best transplant match will come from a donor of the same ethnicity. Bharat donated a kidney to a woman in her 50s and a kidney to a man in his 60s.

Research shows the biggest barrier to talking about organ donation is that it’s never come up in conversation with 34% of people stating this.

Twenty-seven per cent 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.

Anthony Clarkson is director of Organ and Tissue Donation and Transplantation for NHS Blood and Transplant. He said: “People often tell us they struggle to find the right time or words to talk about organ donation.

“Unfortunately, we see close-up the impact not knowing has on families when the first time they consider their loved one’s wishes about 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.”

The NHS has guidance to help start the conversation:

  • Start by checking, “How are you doing?” to gauge whether that is a good time, when you’re not too distracted or when you’re sharing a space, or time with each other, maybe over a cup of tea or out walking;
  • Perhaps something can prompt the conversation, passing a driving test, seeing our campaign TV advert, or an article in the paper;
  • Open with, “Did you hear?” and not your own point of view; or use a hypothetical, “How would you feel if…?”
  • If faith is important to you, open by talking about what you know about your faith’s beliefs on giving; o
  • Acknowledge it’s a difficult subject and that you don’t have to agree.

Find out more by visiting our dedicated pages at www.organdonation.nhs.uk on how to discuss your decision

For more information on organ donation, and to register your decision, please visit: www.organdonation.nhs.uk or call 0300 123 23 23.

Excluded groups include people under 18, those who lack the mental capacity to understand the new arrangements and take the necessary action; people who have lived in England for fewer than 12 months; those who are not living here voluntarily and those who have nominated someone else to make the decision on their behalf.

People are not able to donate if they are positive for Covid-19.

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