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“Organ donation can be a difficult subject to approach with patients and the families of those who have died. What I am looking to do is encourage the general public to discuss this topic with their friends and family so that they all know how each other feels about organ donation and what should happen to them should the worst happen. By us being more open with our loved ones I hope that we can increase the number of people who sign up to become a donor."

Mr Malachy Columb
UHSM Consultant in Anaesthesia and Intensive Care Medicine

Expert gives talk about organ and tissue donation

The UK has over 60 million inhabitants but at present less than 25% of the population are on the organ donor register. As it stands, a person is more likely to need a transplant than to become a donor, a statistic that needs to change.

Mr Malachy Columb, a Consultant in Anaesthesia and Intensive Care Medicine at UHSM is the Trust’s Clinical Lead in organ and tissue donation. Malachy is hosting a talk on the matter for staff and members of the public. He says: “More than 10,000 people in the UK currently need a transplant. Of these, 1000 each year – that's three a day - will die waiting as there are not enough organs available."

The talk will also be an opportunity for people to hear from Graham, a transplant recipient who will be explaining how his transplant surgery saved and changed his life.

When a person signs on to the donor register it means that in the event of their death they can potentially donate a heart, lungs, kidneys, pancreas, liver and small bowel, can restore the sight of two people by donating their corneas and they could give bone and tissue such as skin, heart valves and tendons. Donated organs and tissues, and the families that donate them, are a truly precious resource, and result in hundreds of lives being saved every year.

While there is a need to generally increase donor numbers there is particular concern about the low number of people on the register from BME backgrounds. Approximately 8% of the UK population is from an Asian, Black or mixed background yet people from these groupings form only 3% of donors. Black people are three times as likely as the general population to develop kidney failure and potentially need a transplant; while the need for organs in the Asian community is three to four times higher than that of the white community due to conditions such as diabetes and heart failure.

Malachy continues: “In Spain, there are approximately 30 donors for every million of the population whereas in the UK we have around 10 donors per million, so we are far behind our European neighbours. Transplant teams do an exceptional job in performing surgeries but rely on the public and colleagues like myself to encourage organ donation and for people to be more open about their wishes with friends and family.

The ‘Health Matters’ talk takes place on Wednesday September 15, 2010 in the Education & Research Centre at Wythenshawe Hospital at 12pm. The talk is open to all members of the public, staff, patients and visitors and refreshments will also be served at 11.45am.

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