Doctors and nurses from University Hospital Southampton (UHS) are backing a new NHS campaign to urge families to talk more openly about organ donation.
The ‘Leave Them Certain’ campaign aims to highlight the importance of knowing about a loved one’s decision in advance so that when families are left behind they can carry out their wishes “without worry or uncertainty”.
It follows the change in law in England last year 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.
However, many don’t realise that families will still be approached before any donation goes ahead and that although 80% of people are willing to donate their organs, only 39% have shared their decision.
Research conducted by NHS Blood and Transplant (NHSBT) shows that while nine out of 10 families are supportive of organ donation if a conversation has been had, the figure drops to around half when a decision is not known.
Rachel Clare, specialist nurse for organ donation (SNOD) at UHS, said: “We know that most people are willing to donate their organs but we are still finding that the all-important conversations are not taking place despite the change in law last year which was widely reported in the media.
“The ‘not knowing’ can be an added stress at what is already a very difficult time and so we urge families to talk openly about their decisions to avoid any misunderstandings and ensure their loved ones decision can be carried out without worry or uncertainty.”
She added: “This awareness campaign is extremely important for that. Healthcare is dominating the agenda right now so more than ever it is crucial to do away with the taboos and be more open with one another.”
Critical care teams at UHS have continued to work with the organ donation team throughout the pandemic giving the potential for life-saving transplant work to continue despite the current pressures across intensive care units. The latest quarterly figures (October to December 2020) show that referral activity at UHS continued to be above the national average.
The Trust has installed a memorial in Southampton General Hospital’s main entrance as tribute to patients who have donated organs and tissue, and the families who supported those decisions.
Last year 38 patients at UHS donated organs which saved the lives of more than 100 people.
For more information on organ donation, and to register your decision, please visit www.organdonation.nhs.uk or call 0300 123 23 23.
Posted on Wednesday 10 March 2021