To mark Organ Donation Week 2021, patients have shared the life-changing impact organ donation has had on them, to encourage everyone to speak to their loved ones about donating organs – leaving people certain about their decision after they are gone. Harefield Hospital staff have also shared why organ donation is so important and how it can bring some comfort to families during a difficult time.
Deborah, who had a double-lung transplant three years ago at Harefield, said: “My donor chose to be an organ donor. Knowing that I carry her with me is a gift. I feel the responsibility of really making the most of every opportunity being alive brings, because of her. She is living on through me.”
Neal Dophin, senior clinical lead in theatres, says: “What we have to remember is the enormity of what has happened. We have a family who have lost a loved one, but on the other side, we have people with hope who are looking for an organ to help improve their lives.”
Dr Sian Jaggar, consultant anaesthetist and clinical lead organ donation, explains why families should discuss organ donation: “There’s been a new law with regards to organ donation that means everyone should be considered as an organ donor. What is does not mean is that organs will be taken without the consent of family.”
Jennie Wakelin, specialist nurse organ donation, said: “We talk to the organ donor’s family during the process and tell them when a recipient has been found, this leads to some slightly more hopeful conversations. When you hear that someone else managed to see their children grow-up, or was able to go to university, it does bring some comfort. Organ donors’ stories haven’t ended that day, they leave the legacy of a gift of life to other people.”
Harefield Hospital is the UK’s largest and most experienced centre for heart and lung transplants. Since 1980, there have been more than 3,000 transplant operations at Harefield Hospital, including the world's first double heart and lung transplant in 1983.
Harefield cares for patients awaiting assessment for transplantation, or who have been accepted onto the transplant waiting list, as well as patients who have had organ transplants or who need re-admission with complications following transplantation.
The hospital has the UK's largest ventricular assist device (VAD or 'artificial heart') service. Many patients receive VADs while they wait for a transplant and Harefield Hospital has the largest population of patients 'bridged' to transplant with an artificial heart in the UK. It also has the best long-term survival rates in the UK for patients who have had a heart or lung transplant.