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Posted by Robin Brown on 1st Oct 2018

Organ Donor Week has been and gone- did you register?

You may not have realised it, but last week was organ donor week. It made us at ICEID stop and think about what would happen if we unexpectedly died and how that unfortunate situation could be turned to another’s benefit.

Have you considered the prospect of becoming an organ donor?

Demand for donate organs in the UK still outstrips supply, with the BMJ reporting that “up to one in six candidates for liver, heart, and lung transplantation die or become too ill for the procedure while waiting for an organ”. Additionally, donation requests are refused in around 38% of requests with some other donor’s final requests being overridden by other family members. All this means that the need for donors is ever more present.

The good news though, is that people are slowly getting the message of how important the act of becoming a donor is. According to the BBC, 2017 saw an 11% increase in organ donations, the biggest increase on donations in 28 years.

This is great news for those families with a loved one waiting for a life saving organ transplant. Can you even begin to imagine the stress those families are under; each day waiting and hoping for some selfless individual who’s suffered a terrible and fatal accident to donate. Each day knowing that time is slowly and inexorably slipping away along with your loved one’s life.

Worse still of course, is the situation faced by the family of someone who has just unexpectedly died. It’s one thing, I guess, to be able to plan for someone’s death, perhaps because of a long and progressive illness, one incidentally that’s likely to mean they are ineligible to be donor. But to have the life of somebody that close to you just disappear, is a heart wrenching tragedy.

So imagine that faced with this, you then receive a discrete and sensitive tap on the shoulder of a medical professional holding that family member’s donor card. Donors are only viable for a short space of time often a few hours for more sensitive organs which means you not only have to come to terms with the death of a loved one, but also accepting that family members own decision to donate. Of course, if this is a situation that had been discussed prior to the event the circumstances may be easier to accept, but so many people don’t.

Have you discussed what happens in the event of your untimely demise?

Have you discussed becoming an organ donor with your immediate family, those who will also suffer the emotional trauma of losing you?

It’s a tough decision for many and not a decision to be take lightly. It should be discussed with you loved ones. While obviously not something that could be included in your will, it is an understanding you can come to with your family and something that can be underpinned in two ways:

1.Carry an organ donor card

2.When we are out training, running, cycling, etc, carrying a card may not be practical, and so some form of accessory is more practical

This is why ICEID offer the chance to combine a medical ID bracelet with an organ donor tag - simply use the ID to express your wish to be a donor. It’s simple to wear but highly visible to emergency services, who can even alert the inbound hospital that they have a potential organ donor on the way. This gives valuable time for the hospital to prepare.

Why not take the opportunity to be able to save somebody else’s life if needed? It may even help your family come to terms with your death in as much as it enables another life to continue, a life that contains a little bit of you that continues on.