New figures show 57 people in East Sussex have died on the waiting list for an organ transplant over the past 10 years.
NHS Blood and Transplant revealed the tragic number of deaths to mark Organ Donation Week starting today (Monday and running until SAeptember 10) and is now urging people to tell their families they want to become donors.
Officials say hundreds of life saving transplants are being missed every year because families don’t know what their relative wanted. Left to make the decision for someone they love, families often decide it is safer to say no.
The reluctance to talk about the issue is contributing to a deadly shortage of organs. In East Sussex, there are currently 64 people waiting for a transplant. They will only receive that life changing call if people make sure their families know they want to be a donor.
The figures include 20 people from Brighton and Hove who have died waiting for a transplant in the last decade and 21 people from Brighton and Hove who are on the transplant waiting list now.
Anthony Clarkson, assistant director of Organ Donation and Transplantation for NHS Blood and Transplant, said, “It’s a tragedy that people are dying unnecessarily every year in East Sussex waiting for transplants.
“We know that if everyone who supported donation talked about it and agreed to donate, most of those lives would be saved.
“This Organ Donation Week, tell your family you want to save lives. A few words now can make an extraordinary difference. It will also make things much easier for your family to make the right decision.
“If you want to save lives, don’t leave it too late to talk to your family. In East Sussex there are more than 362,000 people on the NHS Organ Donor Register. However if you want to be a donor, your family’s support is still needed for donation to go ahead.
“If you are unsure about donation, please ask yourselves as a family; what would you do if one of you needed a transplant? Would you accept a life-saving organ? If you’d take an organ, shouldn’t you be prepared to donate?”
NHS Blood and Transplant surveys show more than 80% of people support organ donation but only around 49 per cent of people have ever talked about it.
Research shows that women are 30 per cent more likely to start a conversation about organ donation than men.
Families who agree to donate say it helps with their grief and that they feel enormous sense of pride at knowing their relative gave others the chance of a new beginning.
NHS Blood and Transplant wants everyone in East Sussex to be able to save lives through organ donation and not be prevented from doing so because they have not told a relative their decision.
To support Organ Donation Week visit http://www.nhsbt.nhs.uk/get-involved/promoting-donation-hub/download-digital-materials/organ-donation-week/