Faffing can be fatal, loafing can be lethal

6 December 2016

Public urged: What are you waiting for - take a few minutes this Christmas to join the NHS Organ Donor Register

 “I am waiting patiently for the most precious gift that anyone can give. The gift of new lungs. Sixteen months have passed, I have become worse since going onto the list. Waiting is so very hard. It is a very lonely place for me, the waiting space. The most basic things I used to take for granted, now take my breath away.” Julie, 54, waiting for a lung transplant.

 If you want to be an organ donor why wait to join the NHS Organ Donor Register?

That’s the question NHS Blood and Transplant is asking in a new campaign calling on people of all ages to take a few minutes of their time online this Christmas to register as an organ donor.

Right now across the UK there are 6,500 people like Julie - including 150 children - living a life in limbo, waiting for a call that will change their lives.

Sadly a shortage of donors means too many people die before they get the transplant they need. In the last 12 months 463 people – adults and children – have died waiting for a transplant. In the last five years 2,714 people have died on the waiting list.*

While most people (81%) say they support organ donation, only around a third of people in the UK (23.3 million) have joined the NHS Organ Donor Register. Too many people admit they just “haven’t got round” to joining yet. **

Sally Johnson, NHS Blood and Transplant Director of Organ Donation and Transplantation said: “It’s a terrible shame that so many people who want to save lives through organ donation have not taken the next, simple step to register that decision. We all have busy lives, yet most of us would admit that we still find ourselves whiling time away and delaying doing important things. Signing up to the NHS Organ Donor Register is one thing we know people often just haven’t got around to doing. This Christmas, we are asking everyone who supports organ donation to take just a few minutes of their time online to show that support by joining the NHS Organ Donor Register.”

There is no age limit to joining the register - and everyone is encouraged to have a conversation with their family about organ donation.

There is a particular need for more black and Asian organ donors. People from black and Asian communities have a higher incidence of conditions such as diabetes and certain forms of hepatitis, making them more likely to need a transplant. Yet people from these communities are less likely to agree to organ donation. While some may be able to receive an organ from a white donor, for many others the best, or only, match would be from someone from the same ethnic background.

Organ donation saves and transforms lives. Thanks to people donating after their deaths, over the last year 3,566 potentially life-changing transplants have taken place.***

This time last year, three-year-old Elliott’s life had been spent almost entirely in hospital, his little heart beating thanks only to a mechanical device and the determination of doctors.

His parents, Adrian and Candace Livingstone, clung to fading hopes someone would donate and his life would be saved.

Thanks to someone donating their own child’s organs at their own tragic time, Christmas this year will be a time of happiness and hope for Elliott and his family.

Adrian said: “Thanks to an organ donor, this year we are looking forward to a Christmas we never thought we would have the chance to have. For this we will always be grateful.”

  • Join the NHS Organ Donor Register today. And tell your loved ones that you want them to support you donating if you can help others when you die – don’t leave anyone in any doubt about your decision.
  • www.organdonation.nhs.uk
  • #timetosign #organdonation


 Further information:

As at 31/10/16

  •  ** In a Kantar Public online survey of 1,001 adults in England (12-19 September 2016):
  • When asked if they supported organ donation in principle: 45% said they strongly supported and 35% said they supported; 16% said they neither supported nor opposed; 1% said they opposed in principle and 3% said they didn’t know.
  • When asked if they would be willing to donate: 55% said they would definitely donate all or some of their organs if possible; 27% said they consider donating some or all of their organs if possible; 14% didn’t know and 4% definitely wouldn’t.
  • Of those who said they were willing to donate, but not registered on the organ donor register, 35% said they had not got around to it yet.
  • (Data was weighted to be nationally representative of adults living in England by gender, age, ethnicity and social grade)
  • ***Deceased donor transplants - as at 31/10/16


  • For additional information please contact Maggie Stratton 01923 367600 or Sarah Whyte on 01923 367618 pressoffice@nhsbt.nhs.uk
  • For out of hours enquiries please call: 0117 969 2444

 Notes to editors:

  • NHS Blood and Transplant is a joint England and Wales Special Health Authority. We are responsible for ensuring a safe and efficient supply of blood and associated services to the NHS in England. We are also the organ donation organisation for the UK and are responsible for matching and allocating donated organs.
  • We are an essential part of the NHS and take pride in saving and improving lives by making the most of every voluntary donation, from blood and organs to tissues and stem cells.
  • Our work would not be possible without our donors - ordinary people doing extraordinary things by saving and improving the lives of others.
  • To find out more visit: www.nhsbt.nhs.uk
  • It is quick and easy to join the NHS Organ Donor Register. Visit www.organdonation.nhs.uk or contact our 24 hour a day donor line - 0300 123 23 23.
  • The register records your decision on whether you want to donate your organs and/or tissue after your death to save and improve the lives of others. It is used by authorised medical staff to establish whether someone has registered an organ donation decision.
  • Letting your family know your organ donation decision will make it much easier for them to support what you want.
  • Every day across the UK around three people who could have benefited from a transplant die because there aren’t enough organ donors. We need more people to agree to organ donation
  • Anyone can join the NHS Organ Donor Register, age and medical conditions are not necessarily a barrier to donation.
  • One donor can save or transform up to nine lives through organ donation and transform even more by donating tissue.
  • There is a particular need for more Black and Asian organ donors. Patients from Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) communities are over-represented on the transplant waiting list. More than a quarter (26%) of those on the waiting list are Black, Asian or Minority Ethnic while a 1/3 of people on the kidney waiting list are from these communities. People from Black and Asian communities have a higher incidence of conditions such as diabetes and certain forms of hepatitis, making them more likely to need a transplant. Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic patients make up a third of the active kidney transplant waiting list.  Although some are able to receive a transplant from a white donor, for many the best match will come from a donor from the same ethnic background. Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic donors are needed to improve the chances of these patients getting the kidney transplant they need.
  • Whilst there may be some individual concerns relating to religious or cultural practices, all the major religions support organ donation.