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How words are saving lives

For some people, the best gift they have ever received was the gift of life. Many patients, both young and old, receive life changing transplants each year – but that gift is dependent entirely on the generosity of donors and the support of their families.

Ask yourself, does your family know whether you want to be an organ donor? Have you ever talked about organ donation with them?

If the answer is no, then sadly you’re not alone. Many donation opportunities are missed every year because families don’t know if their loved ones wanted to donate or not.

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On average, three people die every day in need of an organ transplant. Right now, there are around 6,000 people waiting for a lifesaving organ transplant across the UK with 209 of them living in Hampshire. More people are saying yes to organ donation, but there is still an urgent shortage.

People who require a transplant may wait years before they receive a suitably matched organ and it is only through the kindness of brave individuals that lives can be saved. By agreeing to donate your organs after you die, you can save or transform the lives of up to nine people.

Last year at University Hospital Southampton, 36 people gave a lasting legacy to others through the gift of organ donation. The goal is to ensure that every patient who dies in the care of the hospital is considered for organ and tissue donation and that those who wish to donate have the support of their loved ones.

Rachel Clare, a specialist nurse for organ donation at UHS, says: “Many people don’t realise that their family’s support is needed for organ donation to go ahead.”

“Talk to your family about organ donation today. Let them know your decision and ask them if they want to be donors too. Don’t leave your family guessing what you would have wanted to happen.”

The organ donation team at University Hospital Southampton work closely with many services across the Trust to ensure that donations can occur in a streamlined manner while always putting our patients and their families first.

As specialist nurses in organ donation, Rachel and her colleagues - David, Pascale and Nicky - support relatives of potential donors and provide support, advice and education to healthcare professionals.

“We believe that all families should have the opportunity to be involved in decision making around donation and other end of life issues,” says Rachel.

The team help to provide end of life care for patients and bereavement support for their next of kin. Around this time, they’ll seek consent from the family before proceeding with the donation process. The specialist nurse works closely with medical staff and the next of kin, providing extra support and keeping them informed of any donations made.

By talking to your family about your decision, your loved ones will be able to honour your wishes without having to guess what you would have wanted. It might be a simple conversation, but words really do save lives.

Registering as an organ donor

If you are thinking about becoming an organ donor and potentially saving a life, please take two minutes to sign up to the NHS Organ Donor Register.

Sign up here.

Once you’ve registered, there’s just one more thing you need to do: talk to your family about your decision.

Find out more information about organ donation and tips for talking to your family on organdonation.nhs.uk.