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Organ Donation

For some people, the best gift they have ever received was the gift of life.

The gift of life through organ donation saves lives. It is often the best and sometimes the only treatment available for those who suffer disease or failure of a major organ.

Many patients both young and old receive life-changing transplants each year. The gift however is dependent on the generosity of donors and their families who are willing to consider donation of organs and tissues.

96% of the population of the UK say they would accept an organ if they needed one. Yet only 30% of the population are on the NHS Organ Donor Register.  

Currently in the UK there are around 10,000 people who need an organ transplant and around 1,000 people die each year whilst waiting on this list for an organ to become available. This sadly means that on average three people die each day. People who require a transplant may wait for years before they receive a suitably matched organ.

Our goal is to ensure that every patient who dies in the care of our hospitals are considered for solid organ, corneal and tissue donation.

One organ donor can save or transform up to nine lives. A tissue donor can help many more people as well. It’s only through the generosity and bravery of individuals and their bereaved families agreeing to donate the organs of loved ones, that lives can be saved.

 

How do I become a donor?

Once you have made the decision to donate your organs after death it is very easy to register your wishes on the organ donation register.

All you need to do is visit www.organdonation.nhs.uk.

Once you have done this, tell your family and relatives about your wishes and that you have signed up to the register. It can be the hardest decision for loved ones to have to make when they do not know what your wishes are. 

Over 90% of families will agree to donation if a loved one is registered and has discussed their wishes. This drops to around 40% when their wishes are not known.

Remember, every year thousands of lives are saved or transformed through the gift of life but there remains a critical shortage of donor organs and on average three people a day die whilst waiting for a transplant.

If you are willing to receive a transplant, would you be willing to donate your organs after your death?

Please take some time to think about it, and if you would want others to live after your death, sign up to the NHS Organ Donor Register today.

You are able to join the Organ Donor Register through several means:

• Visit the website – www.organdonation.nhs.uk
• Telephone – 0300 123 23 23
• Text DONATE to 62323

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Organ Donation at our hospitals

At Arrowe Park Hospital we support solid organ, corneal and tissue donation and are proud to fulfil people’s wishes both in their lifetime and in the event of their death. Clatterbridge Hospital can only support tissue donation.

We have an established organ donation team which is responsible for supporting bereaved families and offering them the option of organ donation as a usual part of end of life care.

The organ donation team is assisted by the organ donation committee which reports to the Trust Board to ensure we are achieving the best for the people and families of Arrowe Park Hospital.

The organ donation committee is formed from a core group of individuals at Arrowe Park Hospital, who work closely with many of the hospital services, ensuring that strategies and resources are in place to ensure that donation can occur in a streamlined manner.

We ensure that there are robust policies in place and that we maintain best practice alongside national guidance in all aspects of end of life and donation practices.

We believe that all families should have the opportunity to be involved in decision making around donation and other end of life issues and we strive to ensure these choices are given to families in a timely manner.

The organ donation team and committee also work to promote knowledge and awareness of organs and tissue donation and its benefits throughout the hospital and the wider community.

 Who’s who?

Dr Conor McGrath

Clinical Lead - Organ Donation

Katie Whittle 

Specialist Nurse - Organ Donation

Anne Parker

Trust Donation Committee Chair

What organs can be donated?

Organ donation is donating a vital organ to someone whose own organ has failed or is failing. That organ can either come from a deceased donor or a living donor.

Unfortunately, very few people die in circumstances where they are able to donate their organs after death. This is why it’s so important to offer families organ donation as a usual part of end of life care. 

Organ Transplants are the best possible treatment for most people with organ failure. Organ donation has increased by 50% in the UK over the past five years. It has ensured that more families have been offered organ donation as a usual part of end of life care and many lives have been saved and enhanced through organ and tissue donation.

What organs can be donated after death? 

Kidneys

Kidneys from a deceased donor will normally be transplanted into two separate patients. An individual can live quite adequately with only one kidney. Kidneys were the first organs to be successfully transplanted in 1954.

Heart

The heart can be transplanted singularly or combined with the lungs in a heart and lung transplant. The first heart transplant took place in 1967.

Lungs

Lungs can be transplanted as a pair or separated for two recipients. Lobes of lung can also be donated.

Liver

Livers can be transplanted as one organ or can be split into two if the liver is suitable.

Pancreas

The pancreas can be transplanted singularly or with a kidney dependent on the recipient’s requirements.

Small bowel

The small bowel can be transplanted and is becoming a more frequent operation in the UK. It is often transplanted with the liver as a multi-organ transplant.

What tissues can be donated?

Most people are aware that thousands of lives are saved each year by donated organs such as heart and kidneys.

They may not realise that donated tissues such as skin, bone and heart valves can dramatically improve the quality of lives for others and even save them.

What is tissue donation?

Tissues are donated after death by people who have expressed a wish during their lifetime to help others in this way by joining the NHS Organ Donor Register or expressing their wishes to the families. Many people can be considered for tissue donation after death. Unlike organs, tissues can be donated up to 24 hours after a person’s heart has stopped beating. The Department of Health has stated that the offer of organ and tissue donation should be integral to all bereavement services, and that donation should always be considered when it becomes certain a patient will die or has died.

What can be donated?

Eyes

can help restore sight to people with cornea problems (the clear part of the eye). This may be a result of damage caused by eye disease or injury or defects from birth and the white part of the eye (the sclera) can be used in operations to rebuild the eye.

Heart valves

can be transplanted to save the lives of children born with heart defects and adults with damaged heart valves

Skin

can be used as a natural dressing, helping treat people with serious burns. This can save lives by stopping infections, can help reduce scarring and reduces pain.

Bone

is important for people receiving artificial joint replacements or replacing bone that has removed due to illness or injury. It helps reduce pain and improve mobility

Tendons

are the elastic like cords that attach bones and muscles to each other and can be donated to help rebuild damaged joints which helps people move more easily.

 Cornea

 The only tissue you can specifically opt for is cornea. If you want to donate tissue as well as organs you need to tick the “ALL” box when registering to become an organ donor.

Some tissues can only be donated if you are a certain age or size. There are some contraindications (reasons to withhold certain medical treatment) to tissue donation including HIV, CJD, dementia, hepatitis, malignancy, previous organ or tissue transplant (after three months of receiving it).

If you have any questions regarding the donation of tissues please contact 0151 678 5111 and ask to be put you through to the Organ Donation Referral Centre.

 

Who can donate?

Some organs such as kidney, lung and segment of liver, can be donated during life.

However, most organ and tissue transplants come from people who have expressed a wish during their lifetime to help others upon their death.

To ensure the quality of organs donated, they have to be transplanted soon after someone has died. For this reason, the donor will normally be in hospital in an intensive care unit or emergency department.

Can anyone donate organs and tissue?

Most people can be considered for organ and tissue donation. In order to ensure that donations are as safe as possible, the medical and behavioural history of the donor is reviewed in a similar manner to that of blood donors. This reduces the risk of transmitting disease to a patient. A blood sample is taken from the donor and tested for viruses including HIV and hepatitis.

Family interviews are carried out by specially trained organ or tissue donation Specialist Nurses, who are there to carry out the wishes of the donor and their families.

Joining the NHS Organ Donor Register and discussing your wishes with your family are the first and most important steps towards your donation being carried out.

Religion and Ethnicity

Organ donation is a very personal decision and there are no religious denominations that object to organ or tissue donation; however it is advisable to be aware of individual religious requirements for the care of the deceased.

Our Specialist Nurse will do their utmost to have someone there to support the relatives from their religious background if the family feel this will benefit them during the process.

Buddhist: Central to Buddhism is a wish to relieve suffering and there may be circumstances where organ donation may be seen as an act of generosity.

Christian: Organ donation can be considered by Christians as a genuine act of love.

Hindu: Organ donation is in keeping with Hindu beliefs as it can help to save the life of others.

Jewish: Judaism sanctions and encourages organ donation in order to save lives (pikuach nefesh). This principle can override the Jewish objections to any unnecessary interference with the body after death, and the requirement for immediate burial.

Muslim: The general rule that ‘necessities permit the prohibited’ (al-darurat tubih al-mahzurat), has been used to support human organ donation with regard to saving or significantly enhancing a life of another provided that the benefit outweighs the personal cost that has to be borne. One of the fundamental purposes of Islamic law is the preservation of life. Allah greatly rewards those who save the life of others

Sikhism: Sikh philosophy and teaching place great emphasis on the importance of giving and putting others before oneself. Seva can also be donation of one’s organ to another. There is no taboos attached to organ donation in Sikhi.

 

Contact the organ donation team

For general enquiries regarding organ or tissue donation during office hours, please contact:

Katie Whittle
Specialist Nurse - Organ Donation, Arrowe Park Hospital

Telephone: 0151 604 7777
Email: katie.whittle@nhs.net

Dr Conor McGrath
Clinical Lead - Organ Donation, Arrowe Park Hospital

Telephone: 0151 678 5111 (switchboard)
Email: conor.mcgrath@nhs.net

Organ Donation – Join the NHS Organ Donor Register

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