28/07/2003

Minister urges donor registration

Health Minister, Angela Smith has today launched a week-long programme aimed at targeting a shortfall of people registered to donate their organs after death.

While 18% of UK residents (nearly 1 in 5 of the population) have registered their wishes to help others after their death, only 9% of residents in Northern Ireland have signed up.

The Minister said: "I recognise the generosity of so many people here in Northern Ireland who have made the decision, often under difficult circumstances, to donate their organs, or those of a loved one, so that others can live.

“The culture of the Donor Card is still prevalent here, but cards can get lost or damaged. The Organ Donor Register is the best way for people to record their wishes and leave a legacy of life for others after their death. Currently there are 243 local people (including seven children) waiting for the gift of an organ that will save or dramatically improve their lives.”

Eleanor Donaghy, Transplant Co-ordinator at Belfast City Hospital added: "We know that people here are among the most compassionate in the UK. It’s thanks to the generosity of donors and their families that lives are saved or dramatically improved.

“With so many people needing transplants it is vital that more people talk about their wishes with their friends and family and give their support to others by joining the NHS Organ Donor Register. Perhaps those already registered could help sign up a friend.”

There are currently around 160,000 people on the Organ Donor Register in Northern Ireland. People can register by phone (0845 60 60 400) or via the website at www.uktransplant.org.uk

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