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Donors urged to come forward as less than 5,000 join register

By Lisa Smyth

Less than 5,000 people in Northern Ireland have signed on to the NHS Organ Donor Register since the beginning of the year, it has emerged.

Latest figures from NHS Blood and Transplant (NHSBT) have highlighted the shocking failure of people in Northern Ireland to take the opportunity to save lives in the event of their own death.

There are currently only 485,213 in Northern Ireland signed up to the organ donor register — despite the fact that you are more likely to need a transplant than become a donor.

But with almost half of the families of potential donors refusing to give permission for their loved ones’ organs to be used, the number of life-saving operations is drastically reduced.

In addition, traditionally organ donors have come from two groups — road accident and brain haemorrhage patients.

Improved road safety and medical intervention mean that fewer people in both groups are dying.

These factors vastly reduce the number of organs becoming available to help turn around the lives of people in Northern Ireland currently in need of a transplant.

The service is expected to stretch further in the coming years — the number of people across Northern Ireland needing a transplant is expected to rise steeply over the next decade due to the ageing population, an increase in kidney failure and scientific advances — resulting in more people being suitable for a transplant.

The Belfast Telegraph has joined forces with Transplant Sport UK (TSUK) to call on people across Northern Ireland to sign up to the NHS Organ Donor Register.

Lynne Holt, Trustee of TSUK, said: “Northern Ireland only has 26% of the population signed on to the NHS Organ Donor Register and 44% of potential donor families refuse to give consent of their loved ones organs, as they did not know their wishes.”

In August, TSUK will bring 1,800 participants to Belfast for the Westfield Health British Transplant Games.

The aim is to encourage more people to sign up to the register.

More than 800 people who have had a transplant will take part in 18 sporting activities at locations in and around Belfast.

The charity is also asking people to take part in the Belfast City Marathon in May.

To find out more visit www.belfastcitymarathon.com.

Background

To sign up to the NHS Organ Donor |Register, text SAVE to 84118, telephone 0300 1232 323 or log on to www.organdonation.nhs.uk. There are currently 287 people in Northern Ireland waiting for a transplant — eight of whom are children. On average, adults wait 184 days for a heart and 519 for a lung. Children wait an average of 93 days for a heart. About 1,000 people die every year in the UK while they are waiting for an organ transplant or because they became too ill to survive the operation and had to be removed from the list.

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