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Organ donation week is an awareness campaign aimed at promoting the lifesaving act of organ donation.
The wellbeing event is organised by NHS Blood and Transplant and is held on the first week of September.
Organ donation is the act of giving an organ to help save, or enhance the life of someone who needs a transplant. The heart, lungs, cornea, pancreas, liver and small bowel can all be transplanted.
A living donor is a person who agrees to donate organs that are not needed for the donor to survive. The most commonly donated organs by a living person is the kidney, as well as parts of the liver. A healthy person can lead a normal life with only one functioning kidney and 40% of their liver.
The average waiting time for a kidney transplant from someone who has died is more than two and a half years. For some ethnic groups and people for whom it is difficult to find a compatible donor, the wait is even longer. And as a result, some people die waiting.
According to the NHS, three people every day die in need of an organ transplant. That’s why Organ Donation Week encourages you to consider signing up to become an organ donor.
UK: In the UK, anyone can register to donate their organs and tissue when they die, regardless of their age or medical conditions. To become a donor, you need to register online via the NHS Organ Donor Register. Once you are registered, you will receive an NHS Organ Donor Card.
Ireland: You can become an organ donor in Ireland by registering for a donor card or by having your wishes noted on your driving licence. Organ donor cards are available from the Irish Kidney Association and in doctors' surgeries and pharmacies.
Both the NHS and HSE recommend that you notify your family of your decision to become a donor, as they will be asked to support organ donation if you are in a position to donate your organs.
The decision to become an organ donor is an important and emotional one. You should consider the impact it will have on the people you love, as well as the people who will benefit from your donation.
For those considering making the decision, we have compiled several reasons to become an organ donor below:
Improving lives: The clearest benefit of donating your organs is the fact that it can significantly improve the lives of those who need a transplant. For some patients, an organ transplant means that they will be able to see again, for others they will no longer have to depend on costly routine treatments to survive.
Helps the grieving process: Despite experiencing a bereavement, many donor families take consolation in knowing their loved one helped save other lives. A single organ donor can save up to eight lives, and if they donate tissue and bone, the same donor can improve up to 50 lives.
It’s free: Becoming an organ donor doesn’t cost you a penny. Once you have registered your choice, you can continue to live your life, safe in the knowledge that you will be making a positive impact on future generations.
If you would like more information on organ donation, or if you have any other wellbeing concerns, please call our free, 24-hour helpline on:
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