Christmas call to be a donor and save a life

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Health chiefs are urging people to consider organ donation despite a recent rise in the number of donors across the region.

In November, the lives of 52 people were saved thanks to 15 donors from the region, compared to four the previous month.

Jayne Fisher, acting team leader for Yorkshire Organ Donation Team, which also covers North Lincolnshire and Derbyshire, said there had been a five-year programme to improve the number of donors across the country.

“In November we saw a significant increase in donor numbers in Yorkshire,” she said.

“In the UK prior to 2007-08 we had a very poor donation rate compared to the rest of the world. There have been a lot of changes in the way organ donation is set up in the last five years with an increase in donation.”

Latest figures reveal 812 people in Yorkshire, including those temporarily removed from the list, are waiting for transplants.

In Bradford alone, more than 120 adults and children are waiting for life-saving transplant operations.

The number of organ donations at Bradford Royal Infirmary (BRI) from people who had died has fallen slightly since April to three, in spite of a dramatic rise in the number of donors since 2010. Before then, only seven donations had been made since 2005, a donation rate which averaged little more than one per year.

This year in Bradford, 28 people received a donation from either a deceased donor or a relative. A total of 23 patients received new kidneys, while five patients received new livers. This year has also seen the successful donation of lungs – which are in particular short supply in the UK – from a patient at the infirmary.

Paul Cramp, clinical donation champion for the region and an intensive care specialist in Bradford, said: “We are so grateful to these people and their families who have donated their organs. They should be comforted by the fact that their generous donations have gone on to save the lives of at least 11 people.

“Organ donation is seen as a gift of life. One organ donor has the potential to save seven lives, which is an incredible gift. This Christmas, I would urge people throughout the city and region to sit down and talk about organ donation with their families and loved ones, so that your wishes are clear.”

More people are being urged to sign up to the NHS Organ Donor Register, particularly people from the Asian community who have to wait longer for a suitable match to become available.

Ms Fisher said: “The first way an organ is allocated is according to blood group. The majority of people from the Caucasian population are blood group A or blood group O.

“There are a smaller number of people who are blood group B or AB. The South Asian population are more likely to be blood group AB or blood group B.

“So the more Caucasian donors we have the more likely they are to be A or O, so that cuts down the chances of someone from the South Asian community getting an organ.

“Despite the fantastic turnaround and news that we have received three donations this year at the BRI, it is tempered with the fact that one person has died in Bradford this year waiting for the liver transplant that never came, while three people die each day in the UK waiting for the organ which never comes.

“I hope that this year, families and loved ones will sit down 
and talk about donating their organs.”

Since April, 56 people in Yorkshire have donated their organs compared to 83 in 2011-12.