Here, our Chairman Graham Moore, discusses our commitment to encouraging people to give the ‘Gift of Life’ by signing up to the organ donor register, as well as the importance of informing their family of their wishes.
As we eagerly await the start of the 2016 Westfield Heath British Transplant Games, which will see more than 2,500 people gather in Liverpool between the 28th and 31st July, it is time to ensure that the subject of organ donation is once again at the forefront of people’s minds.
We are proud at Westfield Health, through the work of our Charitable Trust, to have supported the Games since 2008. The courage and determination of the transplant athletes who take part never ceases to amaze me and in all the years we have supported the event, we have heard some truly humbling stories.
At any one time around 7,000 people in the UK are waiting for an organ transplant, but due to a shortage of organs up to 1,000 of these will die waiting. Almost 200 of these are under the age of 18.
Organ donation is something I have personally championed for years. As a family, we have sadly been affected by the shortage of organ donors. A number of years ago, my nephew, who suffered with cystic fibrosis, was waiting for a life-saving heart and lung transplant. Unfortunately, he passed away aged just 12 before a donor was found.
More than 21 million people in the UK are registered on the Organ Donation Register – this is up from around 13 million in 2006. However, the UK population currently stands at around 64 million, so there is still some way to go in encouraging more people to sign up.
What is equally important, however, is making sure that, if your wish is to give the ‘Gift of Life’ to others by donating your organs, you communicate this to your nearest and dearest so they are made aware of your wishes should the worst happen.
If you don’t make your decision to donate clear, the medical professionals treating you will ask the person closest to you what they think you wanted. Unfortunately, on average one in five families deny donation if their loved one was on the register but hadn’t shared their wishes.
So, if your family are aware that you wish to donate your organs, they are more likely to give consent which makes it easier for the medical team to establish your decision and helps your relatives to honour it. Every single donor is valuable and it ultimately means that more lives would be saved through organ donation.
The Westfield Health British Transplant Games is a fantastic way to further raise awareness of organ donation and we are looking forward to what is set to be another incredibly inspiring year.
The Games are the perfect platform to showcase the positive effects of organ donation – and what better way to inspire people to register and share their wishes with their loved ones?