Organ Donation Day

11/12/2014

A new organ donation campaign, which is being supported by the Northern Ireland Executive, has been launched to encourage families throughout Northern Ireland to sit down with their loved ones on December 11 and discuss their wishes on organ donation.

Some 84% of people in Northern Ireland support organ donation, however new statistics reveal that 38% of families here do not consent to the donation of their loved one’s organs, when faced with this choice.  This compares to a family refusal rate of only 15% in the leading organ donation rate countries, such as Spain.  A family will always have to consent to donation, irrespective of whether their loved one is on the organ donor register or not.
 
While seventy eight percent (78%) of people agreed that it is important to discuss their donation wishes with their  family and/or friends,  a common reason for families refusing to give consent is that the potential donor’s family was not aware of their loved one’s wishes.
 
The intensive one week campaign has earmarked December 11th as the day for people to sit down and discuss their views with their families on organ donation and consider how one donor can save many lives.  Social media will play an integral role with families being encouraged to share that they have had the conversation and calling on others to do the same by posting their pictures and using the hashtag#Dec11Tellyourlovedones.
 
Supported by all charities and organisations that promote organ donation locally, the initiative has the full backing of the medical profession including the specialist nurses and doctors who directly liaise with the families on this sensitive issue.
 
Speaking about the new family discussion day Dr Eddie Rooney, Chief Executive, Public Health Agency commented, “Research has shown that families who are aware of their loved ones wishes are more likely to donate their organs should the situation arise.  This campaign is targeted at bringing about behavioral change and encouraging people to sit down together and have the conversation in the run up to Christmas, which is a traditional time for families to come together.”
 
“In Northern Ireland almost 200 people are currently waiting for a transplant and sadly the chance will come too late for many, with 15 people each year dying while on the waiting list.  Through the organ donation discussion day on December 11 we want to ensure as many families as possible are aware of the benefits of organ donation and have the knowledge of what their loved ones would want.”
 
Key political stakeholders, donor families, transplant recipients and campaigners, all attended the launch event today.   Aiken PR, Opt for Life, the Public Health Agency, British Heart Foundation Northern Ireland and the British Medical Association are all supporting this initiative.
 
Details of the #Dec11tellyourlovedones ‘Organ Donation Discussion Day' can  be found at www.organdonationni.info