Organ Donation Awareness Week kicks off nationwide on Monday 2nd September and runs until 8th September. 

The national initiative is an opportunity to educate people about organ donation and to help save and improve lives. This year the awareness week is particularly topical, as organ donor law is due to change in England in April 2020. 

The new Organ Donation Act means all adults in England will be considered organ donors unless they chose to opt out or are excluded. The act is known as Max and Keira’s law in honour of a boy who received a heart transplant and the Devon girl who donated it.

At present, 80% of adults in England say they would definitely donate their organs or would consider it but only 37% have signed up as donors. 

It’s an issue Rowcroft Hospice’s Community Nurse Specialist, Karenne Weaver, is very familiar with and feels passionately about: “I have a personal connection to the issue of organ donation because I have an illness that may mean I will need a transplant in the future. 

“Raising awareness about the issue can literally save lives. “It’s important to me to talk about organ donation in a way that brings home that this affects real people and isn’t just statistics.”

As part of Rowcroft’s extensive specialist education programme, Karenne provides training on organ donation to care practitioners across South Devon.

Karenne explains, “At Rowcroft, we believe that conversations around organ donation should be a usual part of end-of-life planning. Many of our patients who signed up to be an organ donor don’t realise that the choice to donate can still be an option for them. Not everyone living with a life-limiting illness is able to donate organs, depending on their diagnosis, but in such cases tissue donation may be an option. We want more end-of-life patients to feel empowered to make informed choices.

“Being able to have the choice to donate can have a real positive impact on a patient’s wellbeing, knowing that they can help others to improve their lives. Tissue and eye donations can transform lives; they can enable parents who have lost their sight to see their children grow up. But currently there is a knowledge gap in the healthcare sector about this issue. By providing training on the subject to local healthcare practitioners Rowcroft can play a part overcoming that.

“We’ve had great feedback from attendees saying it has increased their confidence to approach discussions with patients. I feel very proud that Rowcroft is helping to break down the stigma and to normalise these conversations so they’re a natural part of best practice.” 

To find out more about organ and tissue donation visit https://www.organdonation.nhs.uk/ 

To book a place on Rowcroft’s education programme visit www.rocrofthospice.org.uk/education 

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