An NHS roadshow takes to the streets this week to call on people to prove their support for organ donation and join the NHS Organ Donor Register (ODR). The roadshow is part of a UK-wide campaign to close the gap between the number of people who say they'd be willing to accept an organ if they needed one - 96% - and those who have pledged to donate by joining the ODR, currently 27%.

New research from NHS Blood and Transplant (NHSBT) shows a divide between those who think they have already signed up to be an organ donor and those who are actually registered. In London, a recent NHSBT survey revealed that 29% of people think they are on the ODR whereas the actual proportion is 23%.

Sally Johnson, Director of Organ Donation and Transplantation at NHSBT, said: "We believe there is some confusion around whether people are signed up to become an organ donor. Many people believe that they are signed up to the ODR because they already carry a donor card but to be on the register, you must sign up online or complete an application form.

"Carrying a donor card is great but on its own can get lost or damaged. The best way to record your wishes is to sign up to the ODR and then to discuss your decision with those close to you.

"This roadshow deliberately challenges people to consider what they would do if they needed an organ and asks that if they would accept one, shouldn't they be prepared to give one themselves? If you believe in organ donation or want to find out more please come along to the roadshow and visit organdonation.nhs."

The original kidney donor card was launched back in the 1970s as a stand-alone system for expressing people's organ donation wishes. The NHS Organ Donor Register followed in October 1994, providing a central place for everyone's wishes to be stored.

There are more than 10,000 people who need an organ transplant in the UK and of these, around 1,000 - an average of three a day - die every year before they receive an organ.

Last year (April 2008 - March 2009) a record number of organ transplants - 3,513 - took place in the UK and around a million people joined the ODR pledging to help others after their death. But with the waiting list rising by approximately 8% every year, the need for more donated organs is still urgent.

Following the campaign launch in November 2009, sign-ups to the ODR online and via phone increased by 380% compared to November 2008.

Giles Thorpe, donor transplant co-ordinator from London said: " This is your chance to make a real difference. The Organ Donor Register saves the lives of people every day. More transplants were carried out last year than ever before, but the need for organs never stops. None of us can be sure whether we will ever need a transplant ourselves, but we can give hope to the 10,000 people currently in need of an organ by joining the Organ Donor Register."

Neil Smith from London, who received a kidney from his brother in February, said: "Receiving a kidney gave me back my quality of life. I'll always be grateful to my brother who gave me a second chance. I urge everyone in London to come along and sign up to the Organ Donor Register and make their wishes known."

The roadshow which is visiting 20 towns and cities across the UK, will give the public the chance to sign up to the ODR, pick up general information about organ donation, and discuss donation with a variety of staff including specialist donor care nurses.

Notes

1. There are currently more than 16.7 million people on the NHS Organ Donor Register.

2. NHS Blood and Transplant (NHSBT) is a Special Health Authority in the NHS. It is the organ donation organisation for the UK, with responsibility for matching and allocating donated organs. Its remit also includes the provision of a safe, sufficient supply of blood and associated services to the NHS.

3. The NHS Organ Donor Register records the details of people who have registered their wishes to donate organs and/or tissue after their death for transplantation. This information is used by authorised medical staff to establish whether a person wanted to donate.

4. It's simple to join the ODR by:

- going to organdonation.nhs/roadshow
- ringing 0300 123 23 23
- texting DONATE to 84118

5. Anyone can register on the ODR. Age isn't a barrier to being an organ or tissue donor and neither are most medical conditions. People in their 70s and 80s have become donors and saved many lives.

6. One donor can save or transform up to 9 lives and many more can be helped through the donation of tissues such as bone, skin, corneas, tendons and heart valves.

7. Last year (2008/09), 3,513 organ transplants were carried out in the UK, thanks to the generosity of 1,853 deceased and living donors - the highest on record.

Source
NHS Blood and Transplant

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