Do your family know your views on organ donation?
- Credit: Archant
A woman from Essex who donated her kidney to help save her husband’s life is urging other families to discuss organ donation.
Neri Harris, from Colchester, donated a kidney so that her husband, Warren, could benefit from a new organ from another living donor, and now she wants to see more families having frank discussions about organ donation.
Speaking at the start of Organ Donation Week, which runs from today until Sunday, Mrs Harris said: "The reality is people die while waiting for a suitable organ match. Apart from kidney, and part of the liver, the rest of the organs have to come from a deceased person."
In 2018, 156 people in Essex had their lives saved by a transplant operation but 125 people in the county remain on the waiting list.
A recent survey of adults in England for NHS Blood and Transplant found that 84% agreed it was important to let those closest to you know your views on organ donation. However, only 40% had shared their decision with their family or partner.
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Anthony Clarkson, director of organ donation and transplantation for NHS Blood and Transplant said:"We need more people in Essex to talk about organ donation to increase the number of lifesaving transplants.
"Register your organ donation decision on the NHS Organ Donor Register and tell your family the choice you have made.
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"If the time comes, we know families find the organ donation conversation with nurses or medical teams much easier if they already know what their relative wanted."
Mrs Harris said: "My husband had been on organ transplant list for many years and had to have dialysis. While he was waiting I saw his health deteriorate."
With no sign of a match and her husband's health declining, Mrs Harris stepped in.
"I thought to myself I'm a registered organ donor and I regularly donate blood so why can't I give my spare kidney?"
Unfortunately, Mrs Harris and her husband were not compatible but her kidney was exchanged in a three-way pooled donation. The transplant went ahead in June 2018 and a year on, it has transformed their lives.
From spring 2020, the law around organ donation is changing and all adults in England will be considered as organ donorswhen they die unless they have opted out.
However, families will continue to be approached before organ donation goes ahead.