Wait for organ donors sparks plea for support

Thursday 14 February 2013 Updated: 18/02 14:00

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Buy photos » Liz Armstrong, a specialist organ donation nurse, Elisabeth Amies, lay member of the Organ Donation Commitee and Michael Amies began their campaign for more organ donors in 2011. Picture by Nick Hands

MORE than 30 people across Worcestershire have lost their lives while waiting for an organ transplant, prompting calls for more people to register as donors.

Figures released to the Observer by NHS Blood and Transplant show there are currently 120 people across the county waiting for a life-saving transplant, the majority of which are in need of a kidney.

But a shortage of donors means in the last five years 33 people have lost their lives while waiting for a transplant, with almost half of those needing a kidney.

Among them was Michael Amies' adopted daughter Catherine who died at the Worcestershire Royal in 2010 aged 38. She had suffered from diabetes since the age of ten and had been waiting about two years for a kidney and pancreas transplant.

Her organs were used to save the lives of several people after her death but Mr Amies, from Pershore, only found out she was a donor after she had died.

Since then he and his wife Elisabeth have been working to make organ donation a usual rather than unusual event, by encouraging more people to join the donor register and working with NHS Blood and Transplant and Worcestershire Acute Hospitals NHS Trust to increase the number of organs made available for transplant.

Mr Amies, who is chairman of the Trust's organ donation committee, said one of the main barriers stopping organ donation was people did not talk about it so even if someone was on the list, the family of the deceased often did not consent.

"It came as a surprise to us, we were amazed someone with such a chequered medical history wanted to donate but looking back we are so pleased she did because she saved the lives of two or three people," he said.

"One of the things we encourage donors to do is talk to their families about it because in the dark hours of the morning when you are dealing with the loss of a loved one and you then have to go through this as well it is like a double whammy."

Over the last five years the number of organs available for donation has increased from 7 to 30 making Worcestershire Acute Hospitals NHS Trust one of the best performing in the region. But although there are 189,103 living in the Worcestershire postcode area, the county still lags behind the national average.

Mr Amies said the main reason people gave for not joining the donor register was a lack of time but he was not keen on the introduction of automatic enrolment and asking people to opt out.

"It is much better if it comes as a gift," he said.

"One person can save up to 11 other people and everybody can give something, even a 100-year-old woman can give her corneas to give someone the gift of sight.

"We can't change the world, but we can change what happens in Worcestershire."

Visit www.organdonation-nhs.uk, call 0300 123 23 23 or text SAVE to 84118 for more information on becoming an organ donor.

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