New figures show 39 people in Northumberland have died while on the waiting list for an organ transplant over the past 10 years.
NHS Blood and Transplant revealed the tragic number of deaths to mark Organ Donation Week – which started on Monday on runs until Sunday – and is now urging people to tell their families they want to become donors.
Hundreds of life-saving transplants are being missed every year because families don’t know what their relative wanted. Left to make the decision, families often decide it is safer to say no.
The reluctance to talk about the issue is contributing to a deadly shortage of organs. In Northumberland, there are currently 32 people waiting for a transplant. They will only receive that call if people make sure their families know they want to be a donor.
Anthony Clarkson, of NHS Blood and Transplant, said: “It’s a tragedy that people are dying unnecessarily every year in Northumberland waiting for transplants.
“We know that if everyone who supported donation talked about it and agreed to donate, most of those lives would be saved.
“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.
“In Northumberland, there are more than 127,000 people on the NHS Organ Donor Register. However, if you want to be a donor, your family’s support is still needed for donation to go ahead.
“If you are unsure about donation, ask yourselves – what would you do if you needed a transplant? Would you accept a life-saving organ?”
NHS Blood and Transplant surveys show more than 80 per cent of people support organ donation, but only around 49 per cent of people have ever talked about it. Research shows that women are 30 per cent more likely to start a conversation about organ donation than men.