Bereaved mother calls for more organ donors
Wednesday 30 August 2017
A woman whose daughter died in need of a transplant and who later donated her own kidney to save someone else’s life is urging people to sign the Organ Donor Register.
Pat Carroll, 65, made the plea ahead of Organ Donation Week and now campaigns to raise awareness of organ donation. She became a living donor at Guy’s Hospital last year by donating a kidney to a young man who was treated in the same unit as her daughter Natalie had been.
Events are taking place at Guy’s and St Thomas’ to celebrate Organ Donation Week which runs from Monday 4 to Sunday 10 September. People can meet the team and ask any questions they have about organ donation from 11am to 2pm on Wednesday 6 September in Birdsong Corridor at St Thomas’ and Thursday 7 September in the main entrance at Guy’s Hospital.
NHS Blood and Transplant (NHSBT) organises the annual awareness week to promote the importance of people discussing their organ donation decision with their families, and to highlight how not doing this leads to many missed transplants. This year there is a focus on the power of donation and donors, with one organ donor having the potential to save or transform up to nine lives.
Natalie passed away aged 38 on New Year’s Day 2014 in need of a kidney and pancreas transplant. Her organs had been damaged by Type 1 diabetes. She was placed on the waiting list but later withdrawn because she became too ill to benefit from a transplant.
Natalie was on the NHS Organ Donor Register and was able to donate her own heart valves, which helped saved the life of an eight-month-old girl.
Pat, a retired retail worker from Thurrock in Essex, said: “We had spoken about Natalie donating her organs on a number of occasions. So when I was approached by the organ donation nurse it was a matter of okaying Natalie’s decision. Her liver was also donated but it was not possible to transplant it so it went to research. When I found out her heart valves had been used it made me proud to think that someone somewhere out there has got a life again.”
Pat donated her kidney to Joe Caroma, 22, at Guy’s last November. Figures recently published by NHSBT found that more patients received a kidney transplant from a living donor at Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust than at any other transplant unit in England in 2016/17.
Pat said: “Before Natalie died I promised her I’d finish the journey we both started by donating. Knowing I donated in her memory helped me to cope with my grief.
“When I met Joe he looked desperately ill like Natalie had. I knew what he and his mum Linda had experienced. Since the transplant he looks like a different man – it’s been amazing to watch his transformation. We will always stay in touch and we’re planning a party to mark a year since the transplant.”
During Organ Donation Week, Pat will go to Parliament with Joe and Linda to raise awareness of organ donation. She said: “It’s frustrating that more people don’t agree to donate. After I lost Natalie I started to raise awareness and found a lot of people don’t want to talk about it and were ignorant about the reality, just thinking the organs would be there if they ever needed them.”
In Lambeth and Southwark a total of 202,230 people had signed the Organ Donor Register by March this year – an increase of nearly 53,000 in five years. In 2016/17 48 people from Lambeth and Southwark received organ transplants from deceased or living donors.
Marlies Ostermann, Clinical Lead in Organ Donation at Guy’s and St Thomas’, said: “Since 2015, 18 people have donated their organs at our Trust, saving or transforming 51 other lives. It's important to recognise the life-saving gift the donors and their families have made, and the staff who made this possible.
“Around 6,400 people in the UK are currently waiting for a transplant and on average three people die every day in need of a transplant. It’s crucial for people who want to donate to tell their families. We need their consent for donation to go ahead, even if they have signed the Organ Donor Register.
“Only around 5,000 people die in circumstances where they can donate their organs – around 1% of all deaths in the UK each year – so it’s vital that every potential donor can fulfil their wish by telling their family. Only 36% of adults in England have spoken to relatives about organ donation so we encourage people not to delay having the conversation. Knowing that their loved one has given the gift of life can bring enormous comfort to families of organ donors.”
NHSBT is urging people from Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) communities in particular to sign the Organ Donor Register. Patients from these communities are more likely to need an organ transplant than the rest of the population and have the best chance of a positive outcome if they receive an organ from someone from the same ethnic background.
Anthony Clarkson, Assistant Director of Organ Donation and Transplantation at NHSBT, said: “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 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?”
You can join the NHS Organ Donor Register by:
- Going online at www.organdonation.nhs.uk/register-to-donate
- Phoning 0300 123 23 23
- When you register
for a driving licence or at a GP surgery, apply for a Boots Advantage Card, or register for a European Health Insurance card (EHIC).
Last updated: March 2022