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03 September 2019

Pass it on: UH Bristol and NHS BT raise awareness of the importance of organ donation

During Organ Donation Week, September 2 to 8, NHS Blood and Transplant and University Hospitals Bristol are urging people to talk to their families about organ donation to increase the number of people whose lives can be saved or transformed by an organ transplant.

 Next year, the law around organ donation is changing in England. From spring 2020, all adults in England will be considered as having agreed to donate their own organs when they die unless they record a decision not to donate or are in one of the excluded groups.

 In the lead up to the change in law, NHS Blood and Transplant is urging families across England to talk about their organ donation decision, with the campaign message 'Pass it on'.

 Even after the law has changed, families will continue to be approached before organ donation goes ahead. Knowing what their relative wanted, helps families support their decision at a difficult time.

 A recent survey of adults in England for NHS Blood and Transplant found that while 84% agreed it was important to let those closest to you know your views on organ donation, only 40% had shared their organ donation decision with their family or partner.

 More and more families in Bristol and the south west are saying yes to organ donation but there is still an urgent shortage of donors. UH Bristol is asking people in the area to tell their families they want to donate to help make sure more lives are saved.

 In early 2017, Charlotte, 13, was diagnosed with a cancerous brain tumour. She was referred to Bristol Royal Hospital for Children but the day before treatment was due to begin, Charlotte had a seizure at home. She was rushed to her local hospital and was placed in an induced coma before being transferred to the paediatric intensive care unit (PICU) at Bristol Royal Hospital for Children. Tragically, Charlotte died in May 2018.

 Charlotte's family had already spoken about potential organ donation and Charlotte's mum, Karen, made the extremely brave decision to donate Charlotte's organs so that other people with other conditions would potentially be able to live. The decision to donate Charlotte's organ and tissue resulted in multiple people having their lives transformed and saved.

 Speaking about her decision, and the importance of organ donation, Karen said:

"Having conversations and raising awareness of organ donation, who can donate, and the impact it can have is incredibly important. We decided to donate Charlotte's organs and tissue so that other people may be able to live and since then, I've been contacted by some of the recipients who have had their lives changed or saved by these gifts. This is incredibly meaningful for us as a family as it not only changes the lives of the recipients, but it honours Charlotte's legacy and her life."

 Fran O'Higgins, clinical lead for organ donation at UH Bristol said:

"We need more people in Bristol to talk about organ donation to increase the number of lifesaving transplants.

 "While most people agree that it is important to talk to their family about organ donation, it is less likely that they will have actually had this important conversation.

 "Sadly, many opportunities are lost every year because families don't know if their loved one wanted to be a donor or not. Please don't wait. Speak to your family about organ donation today."

 Anthony Clarkson, Director of Organ Donation and Transplantation for NHS Blood and Transplant said:

"We are very grateful to UH Bristol for their support during Organ Donation Week.

 "Even after the law around organ donation changes next year, families will still be approached before organ donation goes ahead. So it remains so important to talk to your families about your views.

 "Register your organ donation decision on the NHS Organ Donor Register and tell your family the choice you have made. If the time comes, we know families find the organ donation conversation with nurses or medical teams much easier if they already know what their relative wanted."

 Find out more and register your decision by visiting NHS Organ Donor Register at and share your decision with your family.