By Helen Rae, Evening Chronicle, ChronicleLive.co.uk
FAMILIES in the region are being encouraged to take the time to have a ‘Heart to Heart’ discussion about organ donation.
With three people dying every day while waiting for an organ, NHS Blood and Transplant (NHSBT) is calling for people to think seriously about joining the Organ Donor Register.
In the North East 26% of the population have signed up, meaning 809,184 people have become part of the NHS-based register.
Themed as Heart to Heart, National Transplant Week, which runs until this Sunday, gives people the chance to sit down with their friends and relatives to talk about the issue.
The importance of organ donation is highlighted by the remarkable story of Claire Crozier and her brother Peter Dobing.
Claire, 34, was diagnosed with cardiomyopathy four years ago and doctors at Newcastle’s Freeman Hospital said she urgently needed a new heart.
The mother-of-two had a transplant in 2006, but she suffered a major blow when her older brother, Peter, was diagnosed with the same condition.
Peter, who works in customer services, underwent a heart transplant last year at the same hospital, carried out by the same surgeon who treated his sister.
Claire, of Gosforth, said: “I would like to say a big thank you to everyone who has already signed up to the Organ Donor Register – it is a remarkable thing to do.
“It means so much to me and my family that both Peter and I had the opportunity to continue our lives because we were given heart transplants.
“I encourage as many people as possible to sign up – it really does save lives.”
A Heart to Heart downloadable meal pack is available to get people talking together about organ donation over a tasty meal.
It includes recipes devised by TV chef Lawrence Keogh who had a kidney transplant in 2000.
He said: “Having had a kidney transplant myself, I know the difference it can make.
“I urge everyone to get involved in Transplant Week by having a Heart to Heart conversation with their loved ones and thinking about whether you would be willing to sign the Organ Donor Register.”
Anthony Clarkson, assistant director of organ donation and transplantation, said: “We’ve seen a big rise in the number of people in the UK signing up but it’s still not enough – three people are still dying every day.
“So make sure you download the meal pack, tell your family and friends to do the same, and please take two minutes to support Heart to Heart week by signing up today.”
For more information or to download the Heart to Heart meal pack, visit http://www.organdonation.nhs.uk/transplantweek
“You Have the Power to Save Lives – Register to be an organ and tissue donor & Tell Your Loved Ones of Your Decision”
Register to be a donor in Ontario or Download Donor Cards from Trillium Gift of Life Network. NEW for Ontario: recycleMe.org - Learn The Ins & Outs Of Organ And Tissue Donation. Register Today! For other Canadian provinces click here
In the United States, be sure to find out how to register in your state at ShareYourLife.org or Download Donor Cards from OrganDonor.Gov
In Great Britain, register at NHS Organ Donor Register
In Australia, register at Australian Organ Donor Register
Your generosity can save up to eight lives with heart, kidneys, liver, lungs, pancreas and small intestine transplants (see allotransplantation). One tissue donor can help 75 to 100 other people by donating skin, corneas, bone, tendon, ligaments and heart valves
Has your life been saved by an organ transplant? "Pay it forward" and help spread the word about the need for organ donation - In the U.S. another person is added to the national transplant waiting list every 11 minutes and 18 people die each day waiting for an organ or tissue transplant. Organs can save lives, corneas renew vision, and tissue may help to restore someone's ability to walk, run or move freely without pain. Life Begins with You