On average, around 8000 people are in urgent need of an organ transplant every year in the UK. Yet, each day, three people die waiting for a transplant that never comes, which is around 1000 people a year. As a timely reminder for local people to start talking about organ donation, staff and volunteers at St Peter’s Hospital will be taking part in National Transplant Week, between 5th and 9th July.

Jessica Gregory, Ashford and St Peter’s Specialist Nurse in Organ Donation, said: “The theme of this year’s National Transplant Week is ‘Heart to Heart’, which is all about encouraging people to have those awkward conversations they’ve been putting off. We all hope to never be faced with the difficult decision of whether or not to donate the organs of those closest to us – but when I’ve helped families who have been in that situation, it does make things easier if they’ve had ‘the conversation’ and know their loved one’s wishes.”

From April 2009 to March 2010, 11 individuals were able to receive precious life saving organ transplants through donations facilitated from St Peters Hospital. These included liver, kidney and pancreas transplants. A further ten people have had their vision restored after receiving corneal transplants and many more have had the quality of their lives transformed by receiving tissue transplants, such as children given heart valves for congenital heart defects, adults whose own valves needed replacing, and burn victims who have received skin donations.

Jessica said: “These transplants were only possible due to the kindness and generosity of donors and their families. It really is an amazing gift – at a time so terrible for families they are thinking of others and giving something truly appreciated by all the recipients, their families and the transplant team. We will be hosting stands during National Transplant Week to raise awareness of donation and encourage people to sign up to the Organ Donation Register.”

Each extra donor really does make a difference – one organ donor can save the lives of up to nine people and one tissue donor can help transform the lives of up to 50 people.

If you would like more information on organ and tissue donation, or to join the National Organ Donor register go to www.organdonation.nhs.uk. Alternatively call 0300 1232323.

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