Beggs backs call for more organ donors

Ulster Unionist Assembly member for East Antrim, Roy Beggs, has apppealed for more people to consider signing up as an organ donors.

Attending a Stormont event promoting National Transplant Week (September 7-13) last week, Mr Beggs said “I would urge you to consider becoming an NHS Organ Donor and having the conversation with your friends and family.”

He explained: “A kidney transplant, for example, avoids the need for many hours of kidney dialysis each week and dramatically improves someone’s quality of life. You could even make be the difference between life and death for someone within your community.”

Donation is giving an organ or tissue to help someone who needs a transplant.

Transplants can save or greatly enhance the lives of other people. But this relies on donors and their families agreeing to donate their organ or tissue.

There are three different ways to donate. These are:

- Brain stem death - This is where a person no longer has activity in their brain stem due to a severe brain injury. They have permanently lost the potential for consciousness and the capacity to breathe. This may happen even when a ventilator is keeping the person’s heart beating and oxygen is circulated through their blood.

- Circulatory death - Is the irreversible loss of function of the heart and lungs after a cardiac arrest from which the patient cannot or should not be resuscitated. It can also be the planned withdrawal of life-sustaining treatment from a patient within the Intensive Care Unit or the Emergency Department.

- Living donation - Whilst you are still alive you can choose to donate a kidney, a small section of your liver, discarded bone from a hip or knee replacement and also your amniotic membrane (placenta).

Organs and tissue from a donor will only be used with their consent or with their family’s consent after they die. You can give your consent by joining the NHS Organ Donor Register; or telling a relative or close friend about your decision to donate.

Everyone can join the NHS Organ Donor Register regardless of age, as long as they are legally capable of making the decision, and live in the UK.

Having a medical condition does not always prevent you from becoming an organ or tissue donor. At death, a qualified doctor responsible for your care will decide whether some or all organs or tissue are suitable for transplant.

However, there are a few conditions that will exclude you from donating organs and tissue. You cannot become an organ donor if you have HIV (in some circumstances people with HIV can donate to another person who already has HIV), Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease (CJD), or cancer that has spread in the last 12 months.