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Organ Donation Week 2021

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Dr Kathryn Tizard, Organ Donation Lead at the Countess, provides an update on organ donation at the Countess for Organ Donation Week 2021.

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It was difficult to imagine this time last year where we would be now in terms of facilitating Organ Donation at the Trust. As with “all-things-COVID”, we have had to find new ways to evolve and adjust to sustain a resilient system that works to the benefit of patients, despite ongoing threats of future waves and the sustained impact of the pandemic on the wider NHS.

The teams involved with organ donation have all shown real commitment to facilitating patients’ end of life wishes and maintained an excellent referral rate of non-COVID patients for whom organ donation may have been a possibility. Few patients die in circumstances where organ donation is a possibility and this first step allows access to the expert team of specialist nurses for organ donation (SN-ODs) who are then able to assess the patient for donation potential and empathetically discuss options with patients’ families. To this end we have had no missed potential donations, 100% SN-OD presence and collaborative approaches to families and a staggering 89% consent rate to organ donation over the last year. This altruism is remarkable at the best of times but is truly astonishing under the current circumstances and has meant that, despite COVID, the facilitation of organ donation at the Countess has resulted in seven life-changing or life-saving transplants over the last year.

In May 2020, during the first wave of the pandemic, the legislation surrounding organ donation in England was changed but not fully enacted. With social distancing measures and lockdown, it was recognised by the donation and transplantation community that the ability for families to discuss, share and register their donation decisions as well as the widespread advertising of the law change had been severely compromised by the pandemic. The planned awareness campaign was re-launched this year with the “leave them certain” campaign. This aims to highlight the choice everyone has in making their own decision to opt in or opt out, but also how important it is to make those choices known, by registering your donation decision and letting your loved ones know as well. The “opt out” system means that adults covered by the change in law have an active choice to register their decision on the national organ donation register (ODR) as “YES” or “NO”. If there is no recorded decision, it will be considered that you agree to be an organ donor when you die. Organ donation is an act of great generosity and despite the change to the law, a person’s family will still be consulted about donating their organs when they die and this has not changed.

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Dr Kate Tizard

Trust Clinical Lead- Organ Donation

About the Author

Dr Kate Tizard

Consultant in Anaesthesia and Intensive Care Medicine / Clinical Lead for Organ Donation 

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