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Be a Superhero

13 Feb 2019

Often we look at the news and see marvellous feats of bravery where a stranger will put their life on the line to save another, but did you know that we all have the power to save many lives without sacrificing anything at all? That’s right. If you donate your organs after your death, you can save up to nine lives. Furthermore, you can enhance up to 50 more lives. These are people with names: children, sisters, brothers, mothers, fathers, uncles, aunts… The most special thing is that, in a way, if you donate your organs, you continue living even after you pass away.

Sometimes it is not possible to accept organs from donors due to health reasons. Having an illness or medical condition doesn’t necessarily prevent a person from becoming an organ or tissue donor, but the decision about whether some or all organs or tissue are suitable for transplant is made by a medical specialist at the time of donation, taking into account your medical, travel and social history.

There are very few conditions where organ donation is ruled out completely. A person cannot become an organ donor if they have or are suspected of having:

Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease (CJD) Ebola virus disease Active cancer HIV or hepatitis C

Someone with current active cancer cannot become an organ donor. However, it may be possible for people with certain types of cancers to donate after three years of treatment. It may also be possible to donate eyes and some tissue in these circumstances.

In rare cases, the organs of donors with HIV or hepatitis C have been used to help others with the same conditions.

If you want to be a superhero, then we would recommend taking good care of yourself and your body throughout your life by living as healthily as possible to leave some top notch organs! But if kebabs are your thing, not to worry, your organs are just as useful too!

More donors from black, Asian and minority ethnic groups are urgently needed to address an increase in patients from the same communities dying whilst waiting for an organ transplant.

One in five people who died on the Transplant Waiting List last year were from a black, Asian or ethnic minority background.

But why does ethnicity matter in organ donation? People from black and Asian communities are more likely to develop conditions such as high blood pressure, diabetes and certain forms of hepatitis than white people. This makes them more likely to need a transplant.

Blood and tissue types need to match for a successful transplant.

Although many black and Asian patients 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.

While some people with a black or Asian background go on to donate when they die each year, this is not enough to meet the needs of all patients waiting for a transplant from those communities.

Most importantly you need to register. So why not register now and be a superhero: www.organdonation. nhs.uk

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