Local people are being encouraged to sign the Organ Donor Register as new figures show that the number of donations at the Great Western Hospital fell by more than half last year.
There were nine organ donors at the Swindon hospital in 2014/15 but this dropped by more than 50 per cent to just four in the 12 months between April 2015 and March 2016.
The organs from the four deceased donors helped nine patients on the transplant waiting list, less than a third of the number of people who received an organ from a donor at GWH in 2014/15.
Nationally, the number of organ donors in the last year has risen by six per cent to 1,364.
Dr Malcolm Watters, South Central Regional Lead for Organ Donation, said: “Organ donation really is a marvel of modern medicine – the fact that one person’s death can change, or perhaps save, another person’s life is truly incredible.
“Although donor numbers have increased nationally, at a local level we are still struggling.
“Nearly 500 people across the country sadly died while waiting for a transplant last year and it’s a challenge that can only be overcome by more people taking two minutes to go online to sign the Organ Donor Register.”
While there are many mitigating factors which can stop a person from donating their organs, such as lifestyle and cause of death, a major obstacle to achieving higher rates of donation remains gaining the consent of a person’s family after their death.
New figures from NHS Blood and Transplant show that in the last year around 40 per cent of families whose loved one died in a way which meant their organs could be donated, refused consent for the process to go ahead.
Additionally, 120 families refused consent for donation even though their relative carried a donor card.
Dr Watters said: “Signing the Organ Donor Register is only half the solution. It’s so important for a donor to sit down and discuss their decision and feelings with those people closest to them.
“By having a conversation, the donor will not only feel reassured that their end-of-life wishes will be carried out in the way they would have wanted, but also know that even after death they have been able to help someone in the most amazing way.”
As part of the national Organ Donation Week, which runs until Sunday 11 September, the Great Western Hospital’s Organ Donation Committee will be encouraging patients and visitors at the hospital to think about becoming a donor.
An information stand will be based in the hospital’s main atrium throughout the week and will act as a central point of information for any person with questions or queries about organ donation.
For more information and to sign the Organ Donor Register, visit www.organdonation.nhs.uk.