Belfast Telegraph

£250k boost to Northern Ireland organ donation campaign

Cash to raise awareness as 140 wait for transplant op

Efforts to increase the number of organ donations and save more lives across Northern Ireland have received a £250,000 cash boost
Efforts to increase the number of organ donations and save more lives across Northern Ireland have received a £250,000 cash boost

By Lisa Smyth

Efforts to increase the number of organ donations and save more lives across Northern Ireland have received a £250,000 cash boost.

With 140 people here currently waiting for a life-saving transplant and a third of families refusing to give consent for their loved ones' organs to be used, a dedicated recurring fund has been set up to help address the situation.

The cash injection from the Department of Health is designed to sustain the promotion of organ donation and coincides with Northern Ireland's annual Organ Donation Discussion Day.

The aim of the event is to encourage people to sign up to the NHS Organ Donation register.

Anyone who would like their organs to be used for donation is also being asked to ensure they discuss their wishes with their next of kin. Even if someone is registered as a donor, their next of kin must give permission before their organs can be used.

Nikki Murray, manager of the Northern Ireland Organ Donation Services Team, said: "The most important message we want to get across is the importance of telling your family that, in the event of your death, you would like your organs to be used to help others.

"It is an extremely distressing time for family and friends and the issue of organ donation is extremely sensitive, but it can make the decision so much easier if people know their loved one's wishes if the situation ever does arise."

The £250,000 investment announced yesterday is part of a new Department of Health policy relating to organ donation.

Helping potential organ donors speak to their family about their wishes is an integral part of the department's new policy.

Chief Medical Officer for Northern Ireland Dr Michael McBride said: "One donor can help improve or save the lives of up to nine others.

"While Northern Ireland leads the world in live kidney donation and transplantation, around a third of families don't give consent after the death of a loved one.

"In these difficult circumstances, recalling a conversation with their loved about their wishes in relation to organ donation can often make a family's decision more comfortable.

"We want to do more to inform organ donation discussion and to assist the families who are faced with this decision which can help make a hugely positive difference to the lives of others.

"The funding announced today comes on the back of the public's support for this approach, voiced through our public consultation. It will further raise awareness about organ donation as well providing training for healthcare professionals involved in the consent journey.

"Today signifies a major step forward for Organ Donation in Northern Ireland."

Speaking at yesterday's annual awareness raising initiative, the co-founder of organ donation trust Opt for Life Foundation, Shane Finnegan, said: "Two key components in increasing life-saving transplants are ensuring the infrastructure is in place to support the organ donor process and investment to increase awareness and encourage society to embrace the merits of transplantation.

"Organ donation can only be a gift, freely given, from one family to another and that is why we want to ensure that people let their loved ones know what their wishes are on organ donation as the consent rate rises significantly when families have that all-important conversation."

To sign the NHS Organ Donor Register, visit www.organdonationni.info

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