The Rotherham NHS Foundation Trust is backing a new NHS
campaign to urge families in Rotherham to talk about organ donation following
research that less than half of adults in England have had the conversation.
The Leave Them Certain campaign aims to highlight the impact
not knowing has on the families who are left behind and encourage people talk
about their decision. It follows the law change last year in England, which
means that all adults are seen as willing to donate their organs, unless they
opt out or are in one of the excluded groups.
However, many don’t realise that families will still be
approached before any donation goes ahead. Even though 80% of people are
willing to donate their organs, only 39% say they have shared their
decision. And while a huge 9 in 10 families support organ donation if they knew
what their loved one wanted, this figure falls to around half (51%) when a
decision is not known.
As part of the campaign, a new TV advert launched this week
featuring the Kakkad family. Shivum’s father Bharat died from a cardiac arrest
when he was 63 in May 2019, but the family had never spoken about organ
donation. The advert features
family footage and memories of Bharat but ends with another memory - when they
asked Shivum if his father wanted to be an organ donor and he just didn’t know.
Significantly, Shivum and his family did
agree to organ donation, but it was a decision that could have been made easier
if they’d had the conversation.
Shivum said: “My father was a very giving
person. He did charity work and was a strong believer in the Hindu act of Sewa,
of service to god. When the specialist nurse approached us about organ
donation, we made our decision. We knew that helping others in need was what my
father would have wanted. But I wish we had spoken about it to know for certain
and I would urge others to take the opportunity while they still can.”
Shivum hopes that by sharing their family’s story, they will
encourage more families, particularly from Asian and other ethnic backgrounds,
to support and talk about organ donation. The numbers of donors are increasing,
but more need to come forward as often the best transplant match will come from
a donor of the same ethnicity. Bharat went on to help the lives of two other people. He donated a kidney to a
woman in her 50s and a kidney to a man in his 60s.
Clare Windsor, Clinical
Lead for Organ Donation at The Rotherham NHS Foundation Trust, said: “Talking
to your loved ones about your organ donation decision is hugely important. The
not knowing can be an added stress for your family at what is already a very
difficult time. We would like to encourage more people in Rotherham to think about
whether they’d like to be an organ donor and to let friends or family know so
that they can be sure they are making the right decision for you.”
Research shows that the biggest barrier to talking about
organ donation is that it’s never come up in conversation with 34% of people
stating this as their reason. 27% say they are worried it will upset their
family or make them feel uncomfortable, 24% feel they don’t need to tell anyone
their decision, 22% don’t want to talk about their own death, 22% say they
haven’t got round to it yet and 16% have never thought about organ donation
Anthony Clarkson, Director of Organ and Tissue
Donation and Transplantation for NHS Blood and Transplant, said: “People often tell us that they struggle to find the
right time or words to talk about organ donation, unfortunately we see
first-hand the impact not knowing has on families when the first time they
consider their loved ones wishes around organ donation is when they are
seriously ill or have already died. Talk
to your friends, talk to your family. Even though the law has changed, you can
still sign up to the NHS Organ Donor Register to provide your family with added
reassurance. Please don’t wait. Have the conversation
The NHS has some produced some tips and guidance to help
start the conversation:
- Start by checking in first;
‘how are you doing?’ so you can gauge whether now is a good time. Choose a time
when you’re not too distracted or when you’re sharing a space, or time with
each other, maybe over a cup of tea or out walking.
- Perhaps there is something
that prompts the conversation - passing a driving test, seeing our campaign TV
advert, or an article in the paper.
- Open with ‘did you hear’ and
not your own point of view; or use a hypothetical ‘how would you feel if…’
- If faith is important to you,
open with talking about what you know about your faith’s beliefs on giving.
- Acknowledge it’s a difficult
subject and that you don’t have to agree.
Find out more by visiting our dedicated pages at www.organdonation.nhs.uk on how to discuss your decision
For more information on organ donation, and to
register your decision, please visit: www.organdonation.nhs.uk or call 0300 123 23 23.