Families in Northern Ireland continue to save and improve lives through organ donation
The Hogan family
Today (Monday 20 September) marks the start of Organ Donation Week, a national celebration of organ and tissue donation and transplantation which saves and transforms hundreds of lives each year.
The week launches with news that the Northern Ireland Assembly has agreed to the Second Stage of the Organ and Tissue Donation (Deemed Consent) Bill. This gives great focus to the aim of Organ Donation Week in encouraging conversations across generations to get everyone talking about organ donation, and to inspire new registrations to the Organ Donor Register.
Last year in Northern Ireland, 51 families supported the life-saving gift of organ donation. Organ donation is a most precious gift and the selfless act of donors and their families is at the heart of Organ Donation Week.
113 people here received a lifesaving transplant last year and one of these was little Indie Hogan who, at 19 days old and in the height of the pandemic, received an urgent liver transplant.
Indie’s parents told us about their story:
“Indie was born in May 2020, and seemed so perfect and healthy. At 12 days old, tests revealed that there was a problem with her liver and it wasn’t working properly. Indie was diagnosed with acute liver failure and she was urgently transferred by air ambulance to Birmingham Children’s Hospital in the early hours of the morning. As it was during the height of Covid only one parent was allowed to travel with her.
Indie who had a life-saving liver transplant in May 2020 at 19 days old.
“The doctor told us that Indie was very sick and that a transplant was the only option, she had no chance without it. Waiting on the super-urgent list was very hard, knowing that there was a chance she wouldn’t survive. You never expect anyone in your family will ever need to have a transplant to save their life let alone it being your new born baby.”
Describing how life has been transformed for Indie, and the importance of talking about organ donation, Indie’s mum Samara said:
“Now she’s full of life and keeps everyone on their toes! Indie’s donor’s decision has totally changed our lives and Indie wouldn’t be here without them.
“It’s massively important to talk to your family about organ donation because you need to let people know you want to do it. You can save so many lives and do so much good with one decision you make. Indie’s organ donor saved her life, it’s as simple as that. We honestly couldn’t begin to explain how thankful and grateful we are to the family for making the decision they did”.
In total across the UK last year, deceased organ donors helped save or improve the lives of 3,391 people desperately in need of a transplant. However, in Northern Ireland there are around 115 people awaiting a transplant, waiting on the call to give them ‘the gift of life’. With 50% of people in Northern Ireland on the Organ Donor Register, initiatives like Organ Donation Week are an important opportunity to raise awareness, particularly when 90% of people support organ donation here.
Catherine Coyle, Organ Donation lead at Public Health Agency said:
“Family conversations around organ donation are so important to ensure they know what you would want to happen. Only a half of families agree to organ donation going ahead if they don’t know their loved ones’ decision, but this rises to 9 out of 10 if the family has had a conversation.
“Register your organ donation decision on the NHS Organ Donor Register and tell your family the choice you have made. If the time comes, we know families find the organ donation conversation much easier if they already know what their relative wanted.”
To find out more about organ donation, or to opt in or out, visit: www.organdonationni.info or call the dedicated advice line on 0300 303 2094.
Whatever you decide, the best thing you can do is talk with your loved ones to give them the certainty they need to support your decision. Families will always be involved before organ donation goes ahead.
Only half of families agree to donation if they don’t know their loved one’s decision, but this rises to 9 out of 10 if they know their loved one wanted to donate.
• Each year in Northern Ireland around 10-15 people die while awaiting a transplant.
• There are around 115 people in NI on the waiting list (2020-21 annual figure).
• 90% of people in Northern Ireland support organ donation.
• But only 50% of people have signed the Organ Donor Register.
• Only 1% of people die in circumstances where donation is possible, therefore every donation is precious
You can become a living donor:
Across the UK, more than 1,000 people each year donate a kidney or part of their liver while they are still alive to a relative, friend or even someone they do not know.
The most commonly donated organ by a living person is a kidney. Part of a liver can also be transplanted from a living donor to help someone in need of a liver transplant.