The Christmas list we shouldn’t forget

Signing up for organ donation.
Signing up for organ donation.

While people in Northumberland are looking forward to spending Christmas with their loved ones, 21 people in the county who are on the waiting list for a transplant will be hoping they will soon get the gift of an organ.

This December, NHS Blood and Transplant is running the Christmas List campaign, to draw attention to the thousands of people who are waiting for a transplant across the UK and to encourage everyone to join the NHS Organ Donor Register.

Sadly, not all of those waiting will get the transplant they need. New figures show 20 patients in Northumberland have died while on the transplant waiting list during the past five years, and their families will be facing Christmas without them.

Other people have been more fortunate and will be able to celebrate Christmas looking ahead to a brighter future. Thirteen patients in Northumberland have received a transplant already this year thanks to families agreeing to donate a loved one’s organs.

Sally Johnson, director of organ donation and transplantation, said: “Every year thousands of patients on the waiting list in Northumberland and around the country have a Christmas clouded with anxiety and uncertainty.

“Some severely-ill people might spend the whole of Christmas in hospital, just hoping they get a life-saving transplant. While for others, their condition may mean they can’t enjoy Christmas traditions like the rest of us. For example, people waiting for a kidney transplant may not be able to enjoy a traditional Christmas dinner because eating the wrong food may make them more unwell.

“Quite simply, there is a shortage of donated organs, but if more families agreed to donate a loved one’s organs, more people would get the transplants they need.

“So when you are spending time with your loved ones this Christmas, please take a few minutes to sign the Organ Donor Register, and tell your family you’d be proud to become a donor.

“By telling those closest to you that you want to donate you will remove the burden of them having to guess what you would have wanted at a difficult time.”

To join the NHS Organ Donor Register, visit www.organdonation.nhs.uk, call 0300 123 23 23 or text SAVE to 62323. Once you’ve signed up tell those closest to you that you want to donate.