CUMBRIANS are being urged to ‘spell out’ their organ and tissue donation wishes - after almost 30 local people died waiting on the transplant list.
The call has been made as part of National Transplant Week as figures reveal 28 Cumbrians died in the last five years because suitable donors could not be found.
For Kirrin Ingham, a nurse who works for the University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Trust, it’s a cause close to her heart as she had a double cornea transplant as a child. She said: “I believe people need to know more about the options available and need to discuss these with their families.
“Even if people have signed up to the list we still need permission from their family members. So families need to talk about it and make it clear what they want to be done when they die.”
On average, three people a day die in the UK because there aren’t enough organs available. There are currently 61 people on the list in Cumbria alone.
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Sally Johnson, director of organ donation and transplantation for NHS Blood and Transplant, said: “Last year 34 people living in Cumbria benefited from a life-saving organ transplant thanks to families making the decision to donate when a loved one died.
“We know that families are much less likely to allow organ donation to go ahead if they don’t know it’s what their loved one wanted.”
This week the trust has also announced it has introduced, as standard practice, nurses approaching families as part of end-of-life care.
Lindsay Pinch, bereavement nurse specialist at the Royal Lancaster Infirmary, said they wanted to give the nurses confidence to ask families if they have thought about tissue donation.
“They have often heard of organ donation but not tissue donation and this will ensure they are given the chance to donate if they wish.”
Ms Ingham, from Arnside, who works at the Royal Lancaster Infirmary, is leading the training across the trust.
The 43-year-old explained that as a child she struggled with her sight and was told her only option was a double cornea transplant.
At the age of nine she was able to have her left cornea replaced and her right eye was done two years later.
“It’s very close to my heart because of my own experience,” she continued.
“I hope my work is now helping other people to benefit too.”
A Twitter Q&A is to be held today (Thursday) between midday and 1pm with a medic from the trust. The Twitter handle is @uhmbt. The Q&A uses the hashtag #GiveLifeQA.