Organ Donation

For some people, the best gift they have ever received was the gift of life.

Many patients both young and old receive life-changing transplants each year. The gift however is dependent on the generosity of donors and their families who are willing to consider donation of organs and tissues.

96% of the population of the UK say they would accept an organ if they needed one. Yet only 33% of the population are on the NHS Organ Donor Register.  

Currently in the UK there are around 7,000 people who need an organ transplant and sadly, on average, three people die each day whilst waiting on this list for an organ to become available. People who require a transplant may wait for years before they receive a suitably matched organ.

Our goal is to ensure that every patient who dies in the care of our hospitals are considered for solid organ and tissue donation.

One organ donor can save or transform up to nine lives. One tissue donor can change up to 50 lives. It’s only through the generosity and bravery of individuals and their bereaved families agreeing to donate the organs of loved ones, that lives can be saved.

Who can be an organ donor?

Unfortunately, very few people die in circumstances where they are able to donate their organs after death. Indeed, you are more likely to need a transplant than become a donor. This is because, although organ donation happens after someone has died, decisions about organ donation must be made whilst the donor is still on a ventilator either in Intensive Care or, in rare situations, in the Emergency Department.

Only 1% of people who die in the UK do so in a situation that would enable them to donate their organs for tranplant.

If the team looking after the patient think that they may be able to donate organs after their death, they will discuss this with families during conversations about end of life care, so that the wishes of the patient and their family can be ascertained.

The Department of Health has stated that the offer of organ and tissue donation should be integral to all bereavement services, and that donation should always be considered when it becomes certain a patient will die or has died.

Would anyone really want my organs?

Having a medical condition does not necessarily prevent you from becoming a donor. In fact, there are very few absolute contraindications to organ donation.

In order to ensure that donations are as safe as possible, the medical and behavioural history of the donor is reviewed in a similar manner to that of blood donors. This reduces the risk of transmitting disease to a patient. A blood sample is taken from the donor and tested for viruses including HIV and hepatitis.

Family interviews are carried out by specially trained organ or tissue donation Specialist Nurses, who are there to carry out the wishes of the donor and their families.

Although the age of the potential donor is something that is taken into consideration, people in their seventies and even eighties have donated organs which have been successfully transplanted.

Which organs can be donated after death? 

Kidneys

Kidneys from a deceased donor will normally be transplanted into two separate patients. An individual can live quite adequately with only one kidney. Kidneys were the first organs to be successfully transplanted in 1954.

Heart

The heart can be transplanted singularly or combined with the lungs in a heart and lung transplant. The first heart transplant took place in 1967.

Lungs

Lungs can be transplanted as a pair or separated for two recipients. Lobes of lung can also be donated.

Liver

Livers can be transplanted as one organ or can be split into two if the liver is suitable.

Pancreas

The pancreas can be transplanted singularly or with a kidney dependent on the recipient’s requirements.

Small bowel

The small bowel can be transplanted and is becoming a more frequent operation in the UK. It is often transplanted with the liver as a multi-organ transplant.

 

Most people are aware that thousands of lives are saved each year by donated organs such as heart and kidneys.

They may not realise that donated tissues such as skin, bone and heart valves can dramatically improve the quality of lives for others and even save them.

What is tissue donation?

While only a few people die in circumstances which would enable their organs to be donated, many people can donate tissue after their death. Unlike organs, tissues (such as heart valves and corneas) can be donated up to 24 hours after a person’s heart has stopped beating.

What can be donated?

Eyes

Can help restore sight to people with cornea problems (the clear part of the eye). This may be a result of damage caused by eye disease or injury or defects from birth and the white part of the eye (the sclera) can be used in operations to rebuild the eye.

Heart valves

Can be transplanted to save the lives of children born with heart defects and adults with damaged heart valves

Skin

Can be used as a natural dressing, helping treat people with serious burns. This can save lives by stopping infections, can help reduce scarring and reduces pain.

Bone

Is important for people receiving artificial joint replacements or replacing bone that has removed due to illness or injury. It helps reduce pain and improve mobility

Tendons

The elastic like cords that attach bones and muscles to each other and can be donated to help rebuild damaged joints which helps people move more easily.

 

Some tissues can only be donated if you are a certain age or size. There are some contraindications to tissue donation including HIV, CJD, dementia, hepatitis, malignancy or previous organ or tissue transplant.

If you would like further information regarding tissue donation, please contact the following 24-hour number and leave your contact details: 0800 432 0559 (National Referral Centre for Tissue Donation).

 

Religion and Ethnicity

Organ donation is a very personal decision and there are no religious denominations that object to organ or tissue donation; however it is advisable to be aware of individual religious requirements for the care of the deceased.

Our Specialist Nurse will do their utmost to have someone there to support the relatives from their religious background if the family feel this will benefit them during the process.

Buddhist: Central to Buddhism is a wish to relieve suffering and there may be circumstances where organ donation may be seen as an act of generosity.

Christian: Organ donation can be considered by Christians as a genuine act of love.

Hindu: Organ donation is in keeping with Hindu beliefs as it can help to save the life of others.

Jewish: Judaism sanctions and encourages organ donation in order to save lives (pikuach nefesh). This principle can override the Jewish objections to any unnecessary interference with the body after death, and the requirement for immediate burial.

Muslim: The general rule that ‘necessities permit the prohibited’ (al-darurat tubih al-mahzurat), has been used to support human organ donation with regard to saving or significantly enhancing a life of another provided that the benefit outweighs the personal cost that has to be borne. One of the fundamental purposes of Islamic law is the preservation of life. Allah greatly rewards those who save the life of others

Sikhism: Sikh philosophy and teaching place great emphasis on the importance of giving and putting others before oneself. Seva can also be donation of one’s organ to another. There is no taboos attached to organ donation in Sikhi.

How can I register my decision now?

Once you have made the decision to donate your organs after death it is very easy to register your wishes on the organ donation register.

All you need to do is visit www.organdonation.nhs.uk.

Once you have done this, tell your family and relatives about your wishes and that you have signed up to the register. It can be the hardest decision for loved ones to have to make when they do not know what your wishes are. 

Over 90% of families will agree to donation if a loved one is registered and has discussed their wishes. This drops to around 40% when their wishes are not known.

If you are willing to receive a transplant, would you be willing to donate your organs after your death?

Please take some time to think about it, and if you would want others to live after your death, sign up to the NHS Organ Donor Register today.

Adding your name to the register will only take a few minutes of your time but it could save someone else's life.

• Visit the website – www.organdonation.nhs.uk
• Telephone – 0300 123 23 23

Who’s who in Hampshire Hospitals?

The organ donation committee is formed from a core group of individuals at Hampshire Hospitals, who work closely with many of the hospital services, ensuring that strategies and resources are in place to ensure that donation can occur in a streamlined manner and that we are achieving the best for the people and families of Hampshire Hospitals.

Dr Patrick Creagh-Barry

Clinical Lead - Organ Donation

Dr John Criswell 

Clinical Lead - Organ Donation

Rachel Clare

Specialist Nurse – Organ Donation

We ensure that there are robust policies in place and that we maintain best practice alongside national guidance in all aspects of end of life and donation practices.

We believe that all families should have the opportunity to be involved in decision making around donation and other end of life issues and we strive to ensure these choices are given to families in a timely manner.

The organ donation team and committee also work to promote knowledge and awareness of organs and tissue donation and its benefits throughout the hospital and the wider community.

Specialist Nurse – Organ Donation

The role of the Specialist Nurse – Organ Donation (SN-OD) is to support relatives of potential organ donors and to provide education, support and advice to all hospital staff.

The SN-OD will attend the hospital to support staff and contribute to bereavement support for the patient and their next of kin. The SN-OD will seek consent for organ and tissue donation from the next of kin and work closely with the nursing and medical staff caring for the patient to obtain blood samples and other necessary investigations.

The SN-OD on-call will facilitate the donation process through co-ordination and planning of theatre times and retrieval teams maintaining close communication with all staff involved.

The SN-OD will also offer follow-up care to the next of kin whether or not organ or tissue donation takes place and will maintain close communication with the ICU, ED and Theatres staff, offering ongoing education, feedback and support.

 

 


updated 26 October 2016

 

Enquiries

For general enquiries regarding organ or tissue donation during office hours, please contact:

Rachel Clare
Specialist Nurse - Organ Donation, Hampshire Hospitals
Rachel.Clare@nhsbt.nhs.uk

 

For urgent enquiries regarding organ donation, please contact the South Central Organ Donation Services Team 24-hour on-call pager: 07659 183 499.

For enquiries regarding tissue donation, please contact the National Referral Centre for Tissue Donation: 0800 432 0559

W3C AAA