Over 20 people are now able to enjoy fuller lives thanks to donors in Wrexham and North Wales this year.
Since April 2018, Ysbyty Glan Clwyd has seen the largest amount of donors which saw seven people provide the gift of life, resulting in 15 people receiving a life-saving transplant.
In Wrexham Maelor Hospital and Ysbyty Gwynedd ten successful transplants have been made possible through three donors at each hospital.
“Organ donation is a very selfless and beautiful gift, however there are very few patients that will ever be in a position to be able to offer this gift,” explained Specialist Organ Donation Nurse Phil Jones, based at Glan Clwyd Hospital.
“To donate a patient would need to be on an Intensive Care Unit undergoing supportive measures including mechanical ventilation.
“The organs a person can donate vary greatly and this is dependent on the reasons that they are sadly dying, consequently some organs can’t be transplanted.
“When a family give consent for donation to proceed a Specialist Nurse in Organ Donation will determine which organs that particular patient could donate, this may be a number of organs but sometimes they may only be in a position to donate their kidneys, which is still a remarkable gift. Even one transplant will save the life of the recipient.”
In December 2015 Wales became the first country in the UK to move to a ‘soft opt-out’ system of consent to organ donation. This means people who want to be an organ donor can either register a decision to opt in or do nothing.
For those who choose to do nothing, they are regarded as having agreed to organ donation – this is known as deemed consent.
However, if individuals do not tell their family of their decision to donate, the family may not honour that decision and override the organ donor registration or not support deemed consent
Anthony Clarkson, interim director of organ donation and transplantation at NHS Blood and Transplant, has praised the work of the Specialist Organ Donation nurses across North Wales and in particular the team at Ysbyty Glan Clwyd for their donor numbers so far this year.
He said: “Organ Donation is a remarkable gift that offers comfort to the families of organ donors and saves and transforms the lives of transplant recipients.
“Although more than half a million people die every year in the UK, fewer than 5,000 people die in circumstances where donation is possible, and even fewer people actually become donors. Every potential donor is therefore incredibly precious.
“Because there are so few opportunities to donate, it is essential that we work closely with hospitals to increase the number of people who say yes to organ donation by identifying and referring potential donors to us.
“I want to offer my sincere thanks to the wonderful team at Glan Clwyd Hospital for their ongoing hard work and dedication in supporting organ donation. The entire team should feel proud of their efforts to support the decision of their patients and their families to donate, enabling recipients to live because of the transplants they made possible.”
Phil and his team are continuing to encourage families to discuss organ donation so they are aware of their loved ones decision.
He added: “During our public engagement it is obvious that support for Organ Donation is growing.
“Consequently over 30 per of the resident population in Wales have opted in their decision to donate; those that have not opted in or opted out of the register are also giving their consent by choosing to do nothing and we know that within this number there is a huge support for donation.
“Nonetheless, the key message is for individuals to have that conversation with your loved one and families.
“As specialist nurses we sometimes find ourselves speaking to families and offering donation as an end of life choice to families who have never discussed donation in life, this can make the decision difficult for them not knowing the wishes of their loved ones.
“Making a decision and discussing it certainly helps.
“For donation to happen we really need the support from families, it is ok to say yes or no but it is so important that the decision is the right one. As a nurse I would not wish to leave a family in a situation where they may have said no not knowing the wishes of their loved one and regretting that decision later.”
For more information on organ donation and registering as a donor visit https://www.organdonation.nhs.uk/