This week is Organ Donation Week (7th – 13th September 2020), and we are all being encouraged to start a conversation with our loved ones about our wishes regarding this sensitive subject.
Below, we have some of the things you might need to include in your conversation in order to make sure your wishes are met, along with some useful links.
We even have some tips on how to raise the subject, and how to discuss your decision with your family.
Why do you need to share your decision?
If you pass away in circumstances that mean organ donation may be possible, the doctors and nurses caring for you will discuss donation with your family as part of the end of life care discussion.
The medical team will look at the NHS Organ Donor Register to see if you recorded a donation decision before discussing it with your family.
Letting your loved ones know your organ donation decision will help them to make that decision at a difficult time.
They can also make sure any specific wishes you have in line with your beliefs are taken into consideration.
How to discuss your decision
It can be a difficult subject to bring up with your loved ones, but don’t leave your family guessing.
Help them to make this decision at what would undoubtedly be difficult time, by letting them know what you would like to happen in these circumstances.
3 tips to start a conversation
- Try using a newspaper, TV story or social media post you’ve seen.
- Explain how donating your organs and tissues will improve, or even save lives.
- Tell them how you arrived at the decision to donate your organs.
How to establish consent for organ donation
Organ donation can only go ahead with your consent and/or the support of your family.
If you pass away in circumstances in which organ donation is possible, NHS specialist nurses will try to establish what your wishes were, before discussing it with your family.
The NHS Organ Donor Register is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. A specialist nurse will check the register to see if you have recorded a decision. They will then talk to your family.
If you have not recorded an organ donation decision, the starting position for adults in England and Wales is that donation should go ahead.
Your family will always be asked for their support before organ donation goes ahead, and clinicians will never proceed if your family objects.
The support of your family
Organ donation will always be discussed with your family if donation is possible. A specialist nurse will work with your family to explore your last known decision and help your family to honour this.
The best way to make sure your decision is honoured is to register it on the NHS Organ Donor Register and tell your family.
Your family will have the opportunity to provide any additional or more recent information about your decision, and this will always be respected.
If you have not recorded an organ donation decision, the specialist nurse will speak to your family about organ donation as a possibility.
Is carrying an organ donor card a form of consent?
Carrying an organ donor card is a valid form of consent but it is possible that your donor card might not always available to specialist nurses trying to establish your decision.
For this reason, we would always recommend that you register your decision on the NHS Organ Donor Register and share this decision with your family.
Can I change my mind?
Yes, you can change your mind at any time. If you have recorded an organ donation decision on the NHS Organ Donor Register and want to update your details, change or reaffirm your decision, you can complete the Amend your details form or call 0300 123 23 23.