Urgent appeal for families to talk after West Midlands patients die waiting for transplants

Families in the West Midlands are being urged to talk during Organ Donation Week as new figures show 142 people from the area have died waiting for a transplant in the last five years.

Tragically, despite the fact more and more people are supporting donating their loved one’s organs, there is still an urgent need for more people to support donation. NHS Blood and Transplant is now urging more people in West Midlands to tell their families that they want to save lives through organ donation.

Sheron Williamson from Solihull is supporting Organ Donation Week this year and encouraging more people to join the register after she received a heart in 2011. Previous to her transplant Sheron had been very fit and healthy, running 30 miles a week. She said:

“I had just been for a run around Edgbaston Reservoir and was walking back to my car when I started to feel unwell, my legs started shaking violently and I knew something wasn’t right.”

Sheron drove herself to the Queen Elizabeth hospital where she spent the next five months after it was discovered she had Viral Myocarditis. Medication and surgery were trialed to treat her condition, however these did not work and months later Sheron was given the devastating news that she needed a heart transplant, without which she'd only have about 12 days to live. Sheron added:

“As a mother to a 14-year-old I was distraught, our lives were turned upside down. Four days later thanks to a donor I received a heart. I am so grateful I have been able to see my daughter grow up.

"She is about to go into her final year of adult nursing at university. She has been inspired by my experience and wants to help by working as a transplant coordinator or coronary care nurse.”

Last year, 237 people in West Midlands county had their lives saved by a transplant. If more people agreed to donate, more lives would be saved in the West Midlands and around the country. Although the number of donors is increasing, and the waiting lists are reducing, right now there are around 6,000 people waiting for a lifesaving organ transplant across the UK. 

During Organ Donation Week, the NHS is urging families to talk about donation with the message – ‘Words Save Lives’. Councils and organisations around the country are lighting prominent buildings pink, including Wolverhampton's New Cross Hospital, in support of the country’s organ donation campaign. Emma Lawson, Specialist Nurse Organ Donation team manager covering hospitals in the West Midlands for NHS Blood and Transplant, said:

“It’s tragic that so many people from the West Midlands have died waiting for a transplant – what is shocking is that many of those lives could have been saved, had more families agreed to donate organs.

“People are dying every day because some families are not talking about donation. We need more families in the West Midlands County to say yes to organ donation, so that more lives can be saved.

"We all know that organ donation legislation will change to a deemed consent system in England and Scotland in future years but the harsh fact is people are dying right now waiting for an organ and it will still be important for people to know your decision.

Millions of people are already on the NHS Organ Donor Register, join them today and tell your family you want to save lives. Register at organdonation.nhs.uk


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