Wednesday, April 14, 2010

U.K. liver transplant man's plea to others re organ donor registry blunders

By Peter Walsh Norwich Evening News April 13, 2010

A man whose life was saved by a liver transplant has today urged people not to be put off donating by a huge data blunder affecting Britain's donor register which meant, in some cases, organs were removed without consent.

The records of 800,000 people were affected by an error, which meant their wishes about the use of their organs after death were wrongly recorded.

An investigation has found that 45 of those for whom wrong records were stored have since died - and in about 20 cases organs were taken where consent had not been given. Those families are to be contacted by the NHS.

But today Matt Hastings, 29, from Lingwood, near Brundall, has told how he hopes the blunder will not put people off making the life-saving decision to add their name to the register.

Mr Hastings, who was just a month away from death when he received a liver transplant in 2005, said: “I really hope it doesn't affect it because if it does, more people are going to die unnecessarily, which is what we don't want.

“It's very unfortunate that this error has occurred, but the thing is people's lives would've been saved. There are 1,000 people dying every single year just because there's no organ going to come.

“I've had two liver transplants and I'm very lucky to be in this situation. If I wasn't given an organ, I wouldn't be here and wouldn't be able to get married or have children, which I'm now able to do.”

Mr Hastings, who is getting married to his fiancée Victoria Bean in July, was diagnosed with Auto Immune Hepatitis, meaning an inflamed liver, while a student at Caister High School.

He had his first transplant just before his 18th birthday in 1999, but his body rejected it. In March 2005 he had a second transplant and was in surgery for 11 hours and intensive care for five days after undergoing the operation.

Since the operation, the former Norwich City College student, who runs his own online gifts company Wow Gifts from his home, has been fit and well and hopes, despite news of the organ donor register blunder, that there will be more people like him.

He said: “Having to wait for someone to die for you to survive is something hard to cope with. I was a month from death and if that organ didn't come, I wouldn't be here.”

Health Secretary Andy Burnham said he “deeply regretted” the distress caused to bereaved families of people whose organs were removed without consent - and moved to assure the millions of people on the register that their wishes would be respected.

Many donors have strong views about what can be taken. Often consent is not given for eyes to be removed, or bodies to be used in medical research. But the distinctions were accidentally deleted in 1999, when details held by the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency - which includes a request for consent in applications for a driving licence - were transferred to the organ registry.

A spokeswoman for NHS Blood and Transplant said: “We are taking it very seriously and are urgently investigating the situation. Our priority is in ensuring that the families of those who may have been affected are contacted.”

Mr Hastings has set up a charity and website to help fellow sufferers of the condition. For more details log on to

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