CAMPAIGN: Save a life in Harrogate

Editorial image
Editorial image

Harrowing statistics show that nine people have died in the Harrogate district while waiting for an organ transplant in the last five years.

Many of them, with recent advances in modern medicine, may have had a chance at life if there had been more transplants available.

And with 23 more people still waiting for help in our area, the Advertiser has teamed up with the NHS Blood and Transplant service, alongside Harrogate District Hospital, to encourage more people to donate - and make a real difference.

“The message is getting out there but sadly people are still dying on the waiting list,” said Rachel Wiseman, organ donation nurse at Harrogate District Hospital.

“Nationally, there are over 7,000 people waiting. Three of them do die every day, because of the shortage of donors.

“More and more people are getting an opportunity to donate.

“We know that it’s not for everybody.

“But we want to make sure that for everybody that can donate, their families are approached to ask them.”

The latest figures show that seven people in the Harrogate postcode have had their lives saved or transformed by a transplant in the last year - with seven more having their sight restored by a cornea transplant.

But, the figures from the NHS Blood and Transplant service also reveal, there are 23 more people in the district still waiting for a transplant.

Sudden death

Five of them are waiting for a kidney, the remainder are waiting for heart, liver and pancreas transplants.

“Sadly, the families that we talk to are often the ones who have lost a loved one through a sudden death,” said Mrs Wiseman.

“They are bombarded with all this information, and sometimes it’s too much at such a tumultuous time. It can be quite traumatic and draining.

“Yet the families that we talk to know that nothing else can be done for that person anymore. Families take such comfort from knowing they have helped someone else.

“It’s the gift of life. And it’s not just the patient’s life at stake, it’s their family’s.”

NHS Blood and Transplant service is now urging people not only to sign up to the register but to share their decision with their families.

The service’s research has found that only one in three families would agree to donation going ahead if they are unaware of their loved one’s decision to donate.

Mrs Wiseman says it is one of the biggest issues the campaign faces.

“We just want people to talk about it,” she said. “If it’s never been discussed, families can feel left in limbo. Then it can often become a ‘no’, because of the turmoil families feel.

“Even if it’s what they want, they take the safe route. Please sign up to the register - and, just as importantly, tell your family.”