Families encouraged to talk about organ donation | Newry Times

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Tuesday, December 14th, 2021

As Christmas approaches, most of us are working through our shopping gift lists. But there’s one very special gift that we could all consider – the ‘gift of life’ through organ donation.


Families encouraged to talk about organ donation | Newry Times - newry news today


Each year, hundreds of lives are saved and transformed by organ and tissue donation and transplantation.



Last year in Northern Ireland, 51 families supported the life-saving gift of organ donation resulting in 113 transplants throughout the UK, and 87 Northern Ireland residents receiving transplants.

And since April alone, there have been 35 amazing donors and families who have enabled 79 patients to receive a lifesaving transplant.

This is a testament to the positive attitudes of people here when it comes to organ donation.

We know that 90% of people support organ donation, however, only 50% have registered their decision on the NHS Organ Donor Register.

So with many more people willing to consider donating an organ than are actually registered as donors, initiatives such as Organ Donation Discussion Day will help put that conversation front of mind.



Catherine Coyle, Organ Donation lead at Public Health Agency says, “Signing the Register and ensuring that loved ones are aware of your decision, will leave your family certain about what you would have wanted should the worst happen.

“Families will always be involved before organ donation goes ahead which is why letting them know your decision is so important.

“Only half of families agree to donation if they don’t know their loved one’s decision, but this rises to 9 out of 10 if they know their loved one wanted to save lives through donation.”

Unfortunately, in Northern Ireland there are around 134 people awaiting a transplant, waiting for the call to give them ‘the gift of life’. 

The Mac Gabhann family, who campaigns tirelessly to raise awareness of organ donation, know all too well the agony of waiting for that call. 

Four-year-old Dáithí was born with Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome and requires a heart transplant to save his life.


Donate for Daithí Santa message - Families encouraged to talk about organ donation | Newry Times - newry news today - newry news


He’s been on the transplant waiting list for over three years.

Dáithí’s dad Máirtín shares his family’s message, “It is so hard to come to terms that your child’s only hope is organ donation.

“Organ donation is rare, with only around 1% of deaths in the UK resulting in a donation.

“The reason we run our Donate4Dáithí campaign is to try and help normalise the talk around organ donation.

“Sharing your organ donation decision with family is so important, as the final decision will always be theirs.

“Joining the NHS Organ Donor Register is very important, but sharing that decision with loved ones is equally important and we’re delighted to be taking part in Organ Donation Discussion Day.

“Dáithí is now getting to the age and realising that sometimes he can’t keep up with others his age and asked if Santa brings him a new heart, would he be able to run as much as his friends in his class.

“That is heart-breaking to hear but we just hope that one day we get that special call, that Dáithí deserves, to say that there is a new heart for him.



“Until that day comes we will continue to spread awareness of organ donation.

“Organ donation is the greatest gift of all, and is used as a last resort when all other options have been exhausted,” he adds.


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