By Kaye Nicolson
Desperate shortages of organ donations are leaving many British patients waiting years for life-changing transplants.
The NHS are calling for people to change their good intentions into results by joining the organ donor register, in a campaign launched on 2 November. This will be the first UK-wide campaign of this nature, aiming to promote public awareness about organ donation and significantly increase the number of people on the NHS Organ Donor Register. To date only 27% of the nation’s population are on the register.
Recent figures gathered by the NHS show that more than 10,000 people require an organ transplant. Of these, it is estimated that 1000 people a year will die before an organ becomes available. In particular, ethnic groups such as those of South Asian origin are being encouraged to join the organ register, which has led celebrities such as Nina Wadia of Eastenders fame to voice support for organ donation.
The specific need for people of Asian decent to register as donors is due to the less-known medical fact that this ethnic group are more likely to have kidney problems, yet less likely to find a blood match in the UK. 2008 figures demonstrate that of 584 organ transplants of the year, only 12 were from Asian donors. The ‘Can We Count on You?’ drive to encourage is fronted by Nina Wadia and Asif Khan, and it is expected to raise publicity.
On the issue, UK Health Secretary Andy Burnham commented that the overwhelming majority would take an organ if they required, and urged those in favour of organ donation to show their support by signing up to the Organ Donor Register and discussing their wishes with their families.