Local people have been urged to register as organ donors and tell their families and friends about their wishes.
Local councillors made the call as they discussed the Department of Health’s ambitious new plans to grow the number of donors on the register in the north.
At the Derry and Strabane Council’s latest Health and Community Committee meeting, councillors were told that the department was seeking its help to promote organ donation ahead of its own consultation closing on March 5, 2018. The department has also produced a draft code of practise for councils.
Across the North, 770,000 people had signed the Organ Donation Register by September 2017, accounting for 42 per cent of the population, up from 30 per cent in 2013.
The department now plans to undertake further awareness with different groups, including older citizens and children, as well as developing training for healthcare professionals to increase levels of consent in order to achieve the 2020 strategy target of 80%.
SDLP Councillor Tina Gardiner said she was happy to propose the council sign up to the Code “as soon as possible”. “We do have 42% of the population on the register but there are still people waiting for organ donation,” she said. “It doesn’t always end well.”
Colr. Gardiner said that the majority of successful transplants happen in the event of a sudden death of a young person. As well as signing up to become a donor she said, “the most important conversation you can have is with your family”.
“Medical staff will have that conversation with a family about organ harvesting, so if your family is aware, it can be something positive they can do in the event of a trauma as opposed to something more that is being asked of them in the event of a trauma. Family members need to know this is your wish.”
Sinn Fein Councillor Karina Carlin said she was struck by the ambition contained within the report.
“People have to be won over to the idea of organ donation,” she said.
Colr. Carlin said she knew people who had donated and also received organs, and said there was comfort for families in knowing someone who had passed away had given the gift of life to other families and individuals.
“I am certainly signed up myself and I would urge everyone to,” she said, adding: “When you look at the figures, we have quite a way to go and quite a bit of work to do.”
DUP Councillor Hilary McClintock said she was happy for the Council to sign up the Code. “This is life changing for so many people,” she said.