Tuesday, 1 December 2015

The Opt Out System and #Time to Sign

Organ donation has once again been featured quite heavily in the media this last week or so, which is a fantastic thing as all publicity helps spread awareness. 

Firstly NHSBT have launched this year's Christmas Campaign #TimeToSign. It was announced that a total of 49000 people in the UK have had to wait for a transplant in the last decade. People are still waiting - some have been waiting for years. For some the wait is too long and they become unfit for transplant and lives are being lost. If there were more organ donors, they may have had a second chance. 

I've been campaigning to raise awareness of organ donation for over four years now - I'd like to say I've made a difference - many of us would - but the situation remains depressingly the same -  three people still die each day while waiting for a transplant. It hasn't changed. What if you or someone you love was waiting for a transplant, with your life on hold? That is the question we are asking this Christmas. Think about it. #TimeToSign if you can say 'yes' to organ donation. Just click on the link below.

I was pleased to be interviewed by the Welwyn Hatfield Times for the Xmas campaign once again this year and I've added the link below. The last time they interviewed me was the first Christmas after my transplant - back in 2013. I've come a long way since then!

Welwyn Hatfield Times News Item

Secondly, this is the week that the 'Opt Out' system comes into force in Wales - this means that Welsh citizens will automatically be on the organ donor register if they have not recorded an organ donation decision already (either opt in or opt out). Those that do register their choice to be organ donors can choose to donate all or any specific organs and people can also choose to opt out and register that they do not wish to be organ donors. Those that decide to do nothing will be treated as having no objection to donating any of their organs.
It is hoped that this may increase the number of organ donors available by at least 25%. It is a subtle change to how things work in England but there is a lot of hope that it will make a difference as we seem to be at a standstill with the current system we have.

It is known that 90% of the general public are in favour of organ donation and would take an organ if they needed one, yet only around 30% are signed up and again no matter how much campaigning is done these figures don't change. It is very clear that some changes to our current system need to made and this appears to be a sensible way forward to try and increase the amount of people on the register.

It will be interesting to see how this may change current statistics where three people still die each day waiting for an organ because there's a shortage of organ donors and whether England, Scotland and Ireland will follow.

One of the most important things though - whatever system we have in place - is the discussion that is needed between family members to ensure that everyone knows what each other's views are on organ donation. At the moment organ donations are being restricted because families often override a loved one's decision to donate. This is often because they simply do not know what their loved one's views were on organ donation and organ donation hadn't ever been discussed. It is a harrowing decision to make for any family, but easier if families know what their loved ones wishes are.

Our culture in the UK of not discussing dying, death and illness is a thing that needs to change if the situation is to be improved. I think we have a strange culture sometimes when illness and death affect everyone, yet we all brush it under the carpet as though it doesn't happen. I'm not advocating that we all talk doom and gloom everyday, just that sometimes discussions on these matters need to be had - it should be natural to have some discussion on wills, dying wishes and amongst these organ donation. It is proven that family consent rates to organ donation are higher when the family has had the 'discussion'.

Yesterday I was on BBC Three Counties Radio, following the changes in Wales, discussing my transplant and the difference it has made and the hope that the new changes may bring to those who are waiting.

All in all, there's been much talk on organ donation in the media and with that hopefully more awareness and more discussion amongst families.

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