Organ Donation Taskforce Delivery Board Update
As highlighted in the BBC news 22nd January 2009 the number of people
on the organ donor register in the UK has hit a record 16 million, meeting
the target of doubling 2001's numbers a year early. More than one in
four people in the UK are now on the donor register. However, the gap
between supply and demand for organs is still growing and 1,000 people
are expected to die this year while waiting for a transplant. The NHS
figures show people in Scotland and the South West of England are the
most willing to become donors. The increase in numbers could have been
a result of the debate on presumed consent, highlighting the need for
more organ donors. The Government is supporting a £4.5m public awareness
campaign which is to be launched in England and aimed at boosting voluntary
Melissa Bell the mother of the ITV Show X Factor winner Alexandra Burke is currently waiting for a kidney transplant, and is now backing the campaign. As a former singer from the 80’s band Soul to Soul she is supporting the campaign to raise public awareness of the need for more donated organs in the UK.
However despite this rise in numbers, the UK still has one of the lowest organ donation rates in Europe. Since 2001, nearly 24,000 transplants have been carried out using donor organs, but at least 4,500 people have died while waiting for a suitable organ to become available. This year, about 1,000 people are expected to die waiting for an organ, and almost 8,000 people in the UK are currently waiting for a life-saving organ transplant. There is a particular shortage of organs for black and Asian patients, who on average wait about three or four times longer for an organ than white patients, according to NHS Blood and Transplant (NHSBT). NHSBT aims to try to increase the number of organ donors by a further nine million by 2013.
Presumed Consent: The idea of introducing presumed consent, under which people would be placed on the organ donor register automatically unless they "opted out", was rejected last year by a panel of experts appointed by the government. They said such a move was unlikely to increase donor numbers and posed a significant risk of eroding patient trust. This mirrors the feedback given to the Intensive Care Society by medical clinicians and to the BACCN from the survey conducted by Kathy Dalley. The full report ‘The Potential impact of an opt out system for organ donation in the UK: An independent report from the Organ Donation Taskforce’ can be found on the Department of Health website.
The Organ Donation Taskforce Delivery Board (ODTDB) held their latest meeting in January, progress is now being made against the recommendations of the ‘Organs For Transplants: A report from the Organ donation Taskforce’ published in 2008. Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and Paediatric services are all represented on this board.
UK wide Donation Ethics Group is being developed there is a real recognition that the Taskforce needs to support the clinical nursing and medical staff in critical care units if the programme is to succeed. The ODTB is aware that there is a real need to resolve legal, ethical and professional issues so that clinical staff can work within a clear and unambiguous framework of good practice. A Donation Ethics Group is being developed; who will be independent but linked to the local Trust ethics and organ donation groups. It is envisaged these groups will develop ‘Frequently Asked Questions and Case Examples’ to disseminate and support clinical staff
Clinical Donation Champion and Trust Donation Champions: the first wave of 45 hospitals now has 35 Organ Donation champions (mainly Consultant Intensivist’s) whom have been appointed. A Toolkit and Development Programme is being produced to support the local champions. They will be expected to lead on developing local policy, training, and monitoring donor activity.
Network of Donor Transplant co-ordinators has been reorganised and numbers expanded. It is envisaged the donor transplant co- ordinators will be embedded in local ITU’s.
Network of Retrieval Teams is to be established, with work currently underway with established retrieval teams.
Scoping of Training needs for all clinical staff likely to be involved in the treatment of potential donors has taken place, Kathy Dalley attended to represent BACCN. Critical Care, anaesthesia, the Trust clinical donor champion, emergency medicine teams, The Donor Transplant Co- ordinators and neuroscience have been identified as high priority as these staff have a high impact on the organ donation process. Other staff such as hospital managers, Chief Executives, clinical support staff such as pathologists, physios, radiologists, GP’s, and undergraduate nurses and doctors are included in the training report. Over the next few months the full outline of training needs will be presented to the Organ Donation Taskforce for Implementation.
Finally if you aren’t on the Donor Register consider if you would like to join this worthwhile campaign, and talk to family and friends about joining the register too!
BACCN Professional Advisor