Figures released this week to mark National Transplant week show that family support for organ donation more than doubles when people know about their loved one’s wishes.
NHS Blood and Transplant confirmed that family support rates in the UK jump from 41% when wishes about organ donation are not known to a massive 95% when they are known by the donor’s family.
It is very appropriate that the theme for this year’s national transplant week is “pass it on”, focusing on the importance of people talking about their wishes to family and friends.
Publicity, dialogue and full public awareness will be crucial for a successful move to a system of soft opt-out through the new legislation for Wales which is currently being developed.
There needs to be 100% public awareness of the change from opt-in to opt-out. This will require a long lead time to implementation and the use of every possible resource and communication tool and in multiple languages (including brail and sign) in order to reach all corners of Wales and all sections of society.
It will be vital that this publicity starts at school – to get the issue of organ donation into the public consciousness and to ensure that people, and especially young people know that they have a choice to make; this will also encourage dialogue with parents and families at home.
By no means will this be a small endeavour, and its importance should not be underestimated if the scheme is to succeed and gain the confidence of the public and the professionals. And it is vital that this legislation is successful – let’s not forget, there are around 10,000 people that need a transplant in the UK and three people die waiting every day.