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Thursday 21st June 2018

Yorkshire’s Be A Hero campaign has thanked the 50,000 people in Yorkshire who signed up to the organ donor register in response to the get ‘Yorkshire to 50k’ campaign.

The ‘Yorkshire to 50k’ initiative launched in September 2017 and saw hundreds of Yorkshire residents cycling for 24 hours to inspire over 50,000 people to sign up to the organ donor register, which it achieved in just six months.

This year, the Be A Hero campaign, led by Leeds Teaching Hospital NHS Trust, will be encouraging the public to talk about organ donation and their wishes at an all-day event in Victoria Gate, Leeds on Saturday 23rd June, from 9:00am – 4:00pm.

Be A Hero at LGI Final CopyClinicians and SNODs (Specialist Nurses in Organ Donation) will be inviting shoppers and passers-by to sit with their family and friends on the Conversation Couch and have the ‘Organ Donation Conversation’, as the next stage of the campaign emphasises the importance of family consent in organ donation.

The topic of consent rates is high on the political agenda with a consultation underway to consider the potential of following in Wales’ footsteps and moving towards an ‘opt-out’ system for organ donation. The Be A Hero campaign hopes that by launching the ‘Organ Donation Conversation’ it can reinforce the importance of family consent in Yorkshire to help improve the number of transplants.

Since the launch of the Be A Hero campaign in Yorkshire, the family consent rate from Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust has increased from 62% in 2016/17, to 76% in 2017/18.

In 2017/18, 318 people received a life-changing organ from a donor, while in the same time 34 people sadly lost their lives while waiting for a transplant. 483 people in Yorkshire and the Humber are still awaiting a transplant as of the end of March 2018.

In the event of the loss of a loved one, families will be asked to make the decision whether or not to consent to organ donation, even if the deceased was registered as an organ donor. Across the UK, more than 1,000 families decline to donate the organs of a loved one every year*, even if their family member has consented to donate after death.

Mahmud Nawaz, from Barnsley, has experienced first-hand how discussing organ donation can provide support during an incredibly difficult decision.

When Mahmud’s wife Sharon died suddenly of a brain haemorrhage in March 2004, he was given the option to donate her organs after death. Mahmud immediately chose to donate her organs, knowing that Sharon had always been an advocate for organ donation, and proudly carried an organ donor card. Her kidneys and liver saved a total of four people, including a young child, which Mahmud says would have made her incredibly proud.

Mr Nawaz said: “When I was asked whether I’d consider organ donation, the decision was made much easier for me because I knew Sharon would have wanted to donate. She was very vocal about her wishes and ultimately, this made my choice much easier.

“Although losing a loved one is the worst experience we could imagine, the most important thing is to tell your loved ones about your final wishes, to remove that stress should that devastating circumstance occur. Thankfully, I knew what Sharon wanted, and knowing that she has saved four people’s lives brought me some small joy at the worst time of my life.”

Dr Claire Tordoff, Clinical Lead for Organ Donation, says: “It is more important than ever to encourage people to have open discussions about their final wishes. Although an opt-out system would be a huge step forward for organ donation, families will still be given the final decision when faced with a bereavement. The opt-out system does not mean you will automatically become an organ donor.

“Last August, we launched our mission to get 50,000 sign ups to the organ donor register in the Yorkshire region. This was a huge success for the campaign, and now we want to continue spreading the message and encouraging people to have the ‘Organ Donation Conversation’ with their loved ones.”

To find out more about organ donation, please visit www.leedsth.nhs.uk/be-a-hero. You can also sign up to the donor register by calling 0300 123 23 23.

You can make a charitable donation to the Be A Hero campaign, which raises awareness of organ donation within Yorkshire, by visiting https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/bahy1