Sunderland MP whose daughter needs kidney transplant backs call for families to talk about organ donation

Julie Elliott MP (left) with daughter Rebecca (centre) and sister Joan (right) after completing a walk to raise funds for Kidney Research UK in June this year.
Julie Elliott MP (left) with daughter Rebecca (centre) and sister Joan (right) after completing a walk to raise funds for Kidney Research UK in June this year.

A Wearside MP whose daughter is waiting for a kidney transplant has backed calls for would-be donors to make sure their families are aware of their wishes.

Julie Elliot’s daughter Rebecca, 35, is currently on the waiting list for a new kidney.

Julie Elliott MP

Julie Elliott MP

Now the Sunderland Central MP is supporting an Organ Donation week drive by NHS Blood and Transplant to get people to let their loved ones know they want to donate their organs.

The call comes as new figures show 37 people from Sunderland have died waiting for a transplant in the last decade, while 32 people from the city are currently on the transplant waiting list.

Across Tyne and Wear, 142 people have died while waiting for a transplant over the past 10 years.

“The latest figures sadly confirm what we already know: there are too few registered organ donors in our country and people are dying as a result,” said Ms Elliott.

The local figures are shocking but let’s be clear, this is a national problem – 457 people died waiting for an organ transplant in England in 2016.

Julie Elliott

“Many people don’t realise that even if they are a registered donor their family’s support is still required for a donation to take place.

“I fully support the call for people to talk to their loved ones about their wishes this Organ Donation Week.

“The local figures are shocking but let’s be clear, this is a national problem – 457 people died waiting for an organ transplant in England in 2016.”

Last month she supported a proposal by Barnsley Central MP Dan Jarvis, calling for the introduction of an opt-out system for organ donation in England.

Wales introduced an opt-out system for organ donation in December 2015 and since then the number of potential organ donors has almost trebled.

It is estimated a similar move in England would help 10,000 people.

“In the future I believe we need to move to an opt-out system similar to the one introduced in Wales in 2015,” said Ms Elliott.

“The number of potential donors in Wales has trebled in the last two years. There are 23 other countries in Europe with opt-out organ donation systems in place and the sooner we follow suit the sooner countless lives will be saved.”

NHS Blood and Transplant surveys show more than 80% of people support organ donation but only around 49% of people have ever talked about it. Research shows women are 30% more likely to start a conversation about organ donation than men.

Families who agree to donate say it helps with their grief and that they feel enormous sense of pride at knowing their relative gave others the chance of a new beginning.

Anthony Clarkson, Assistant Director of Organ Donation and Transplantation for NHS Blood and Transplant, said: “It’s a tragedy that people are dying unnecessarily every year in Tyne and Wear waiting for transplants.

“We know that if everyone who supported donation talked about it and agreed to donate, most of those lives would be saved.

“This Organ Donation Week, tell your family you want to save lives. A few words now can make an extraordinary difference. It will also make things much easier for your family to make the right decision.

“If you want to save lives, don’t leave it too late to talk to your family. In Tyne and Wear there are more than 384,000 people on the NHS Organ Donor Register. However if you want to be a donor, your family’s support is still needed for donation to go ahead.

“If you are unsure about donation, please ask yourselves as a family; what would you do if one of you needed a transplant? Would you accept a life-saving organ? If you’d take an organ, shouldn’t you be prepared to donate?”

To support Organ Donation Week visit http://www.nhsbt.nhs.uk/get-involved/promoting-donation-hub/download-digital-materials/organ-donation-week/