86* people living in Berkshire are on the UK’s waiting list for a transplant, revealed statistics (Nov 2015) released by NHS Blood and Transplant. 20 of those have been on the waiting list for longer than two years, and 10 have been waiting longer than five years
Rory Collier is one of the specialist nurses responsible for matching those waiting for a transplant with potential donors admitted to A&E and intensive care units at the Royal Berkshire Hospital and other hospitals in the Thames Valley area.
“One donor can save or transform up to 9 lives and many more can be helped through the donation of tissues. If you want to help people after you have passed away there is no greater gesture than becoming an organ donor,” said Rory.
“People often think you have to be a perfect physical specimen which isn’t true. You can donate up to the age of 85 and just because you have some long term medical problems or drink in moderation it doesn’t exclude you from being able to donate.”
Donor figures have increased by 50 per cent since a national taskforce was introduced seven years ago but sadly three people still die every day waiting for a transplant and demand always outstrips supply.
Rory’s job includes choosing the appropriate time to raise the possibility of donation with loved ones if the patient is unlikely to recover. He said: “It calls for tact and diplomacy because relatives are overwhelmed with what has happened and the last thing I want is to be seen as an opportunist.
“We encourage everyone to join the NHS Organ Donor Register and to tell their loved ones, so that they are aware of their wishes. Often families are not aware which can make it difficult for them”.
Gaining consent from the family is just the start. Once consent is granted, a full physical assessment of the donor needs to take place, followed by organ matching via the national database, organising a specialist surgical team to perform the organ retrieval and making arrangements to transport the organs to the recipients anywhere in the country.
The time frame from retrieval to transplant can be as little as four hours for a heart and lungs with surgical teams on standby at both ends. A liver transplant can take place up to eight hours later while kidneys have a little longer with up to a 20 hour window.
For more information, visit www.organdonation.nhs.uk