Organ and Tissue Donation
Give the gift of life
There are 201 people on the transplant waiting list in Northern Ireland today. Nine people died while on the transplant list last year. A total of 223 people here have received a life-saving transplant to date.
Transplants are one of the most miraculous achievements of modern medicine. But they depend entirely on the generosity of donors and their families who are willing to make this life-saving gift to others.
One donor can save the life of several people and greatly enhance the life of many more from tissue donation. Corneal transplantation helps to restore the sight of more than 2500 blind and partially sighted people every year in the United Kingdom.
Right now there are more than 6,000 people in the UK that need a transplant and every year around 1,000 people will die waiting. At the end of March, 2019, there were a total of 1,600 deceased donors in the UK.
The generosity of donors and their families enables over 4000 people in the UK every year to take on a new lease of life.
Doctors and nurses are committed to doing everything possible to save life and organ donation only takes place after a patient has died.
What is organ/tissue donation?
Donation is giving an organ or tissue to help someone who needs a transplant. Transplants can save or greatly enhance the lives of other people. But this relies on donors and their families agreeing to donate their organ or tissue.
The number of people waiting on a life saving transplant is expected to rise due to our aging population, an increase in obesity, an increase in kidney failure, and scientific advances which mean that more people are now able to benefit from a transplant.
In addition, fewer than 5,000 people each year die in circumstances where they can become a donor. Because organs have to be transplanted very soon after death they can only be donated by someone who has died in hospital. Usually these patients are on a ventilator in the Intensive Care Unit or the Emergency Department, and are declared brain dead or die despite medical treatment – generally as a result of a brain haemorrhage, major accident like a car crash, or a stroke.
Another reason for the major shortage of organs is that many people have not recorded their decision to be a donor after they die by joining the NHS Organ Donor Register or discussed their decision with their families.
Organs that can be donated after death include the heart, lungs, kidneys, liver, pancreas and small bowel. Tissue such as corneas and heart valves can also be used to help others.
While only a few people die in circumstances which would enable their organs to be donated, many people can donate tissue after their death. The best time to donate tissues for example; corneas and heart valves is within 24 hours after someone has died.
We will only use organs and tissue from a donor with their consent or with their family’s consent after they die. You can give your consent by:
• Joining the NHS Organ Donor Register, or
• Telling a relative or close friend about your decision to donate
Everyone can join the NHS Organ Donor Register regardless of age, as long as they are:
• Legally capable of making the decision, and
• Live in the UK.
How do I join the Register?
And don’t forget to discuss your decision with your family and friends.