Will they let me die if I’m on the Organ Donor Register?

Will they let you die if you’re on the organ donor register?

I have been asked this question countless times. To some of you reading this, it might seem ridiculous. To others, it feels like a genuine concern.

The answer is no. Here’s a little more detail as to why.

  1. The paramedic/healthcare professional looking after you while you are alive would likely not know if you were on the organ donor register or not.
  2. Death is confirmed by doctors who are completely independent to the transplant team. Meaning there is no room for overlap.
  3. There are strict criteria in place in the UK to help those who care for the dying, by providing safe, timely and consistent criteria for the diagnosis of death. Organs are never removed until the death has been confirmed in line with these strict criteria.
  4. The transplant team then have to discuss with your family first. Even if you are on the organ donor register, the transplant team will not take your organs after death without your families consent.

Organ donation is a gift. It is your choice. No one will force you to give a gift that you don’t want to give. No one will treat you any differently if you decide to give or not to give.

The NHS is here for you, to prolong your life and improve your health whenever you need it.

Being on the organ donor register and having the option to give life after life is a gift in itself. And thanks to those who do choose to give, organ donation continues to transform and save countless lives.

Doctor Sara

What does Race have to do with blood donation?

‘We all bleed red’

Ever heard that saying?

It’s a phrase often used to counter racism, saying we all bleed red so basically – we are all the same on the inside.

Now while human blood is the colour red, we do have genetic differences which tend to vary according to our ethnic background. So while it is perfectly possible for a white person to be a blood type match to a black person and vice versa, the chances of a match are higher when donors and recipients are from the same ethnic background.

So why do we need more black donors? 

Blood can be divided into groups.

Your blood group is determined by your parents.

Some patients who need regular transfusions need blood that is closely matched to their own blood. The best match typically comes from donors who have the same ethnic background.

Around 15,000 people in the UK have sickle cell – a disease common in people of African and Caribbean heritage (90% African in the UK). People with sickle cell often need regular blood transfusions to survive.

Black people are more likely to have the rare blood types like Ro, O Rh positive and B Rh positive that people with sickle cell need. Some rare blood types are only found in the black and Asian communities.

Currently in England, only 1% of blood donors are black.

So that’s why.

We need more black blood donors in order to treat patients as well as we can.

Having sickle cell trait doesn’t mean you can’t give blood!

Do you donate blood?

Click here to sign up!

Doctor Sara

What is Organ donation?

Let’s be honest, no one really wants to talk about organs.

Even typing that makes me feel like I should apologise for putting a dampener on your day. I feel like some crazy Frankenstein assistant who corners you on the street saying “Hey! How was work? Have you thought about your own impending mortality today?! No?! What a shame – let’s jump right in!!”

…So yeah. I’m sorry in advance because this post might feel a little uncomfortable and weird at times.
But I’m also – I’m so incredibly not sorry – because this post could save you or a loved ones life.

Education is power. Let get empowered by becoming educated about organ donation.

What is Organ donation?

Organ donation is when you give an organ to someone else that needs a transplant.

There are different types of organ donation:

  • Living organ donation:

While you are alive you can donate a kidney, or in some cases a small section on your liver, lung, bone and amniotic membrane (part of the placenta), to another person in need. People can donate to a friend or family member, to someone they don’t know, or via a paired donation scheme where donors join a matching scheme to give to those in need. Click here to read more

  • Donation after death:

When someone dies in particular circumstances, their organs can be used to save the life of another. Medically, there are two forms of death:

Brain death – when there is severe brain injury and permanent loss of the potential for consciousness and the ability to breathe.

Circulatory death – when there is irreversible loss of function of the heart and lungs after a cardiac arrest (heart stops beating).

People can choose to donate after death  by joining the organ donor register and telling their friends and family that they would want to give someone else life after their death.

Something will happen to our bodies when we pass on. We can’t really guarantee when, where or how we pass, but what we can do is choose to give life after life and help those in need – by joining the organ donor register today.

 

Doctor Sara

What is Blood Donation?

I’ve been going on about blood donation for a while now.

I promise I’m not doing it to intentionally bore you. And despite my job as a doctor, I don’t have some morbid vampire like fascination with blood.

Blood and organ donation are massively life changingly important and you literally NEED to know about it as one day it may save the life of you or a loved one. I don’t really know how else to explain it to be honest.

Education and knowledge are powerful.

Let’s get educated and powerful in this series. Ready?

Blood donation is when you give blood.

Your blood can then be given to another person.

Blood is the red stuff stuff that runs through our bodies. It carries oxygen to tissues,  essential nutrients to cells, removes waste materials and fights infection like some badass super fuel.

Blood is made up of several bits all mixed together.

  • Plasma – Plasma is the fluid in the blood that carries around all the other stuff in the blood and contains things we need like clotting factors, immunoglobulins, albumin and a load of other stuff essential for life that we can discuss another day
  • Red blood cells –  contain haemoglobin which carry oxygen to cells and take carbon dioxide waste back to the lungs
  • Platelets – these are crucial in help blood to clot when needed
  • White cells – white cells fight infections

Our physical bodies can’t survive without it.

Sometimes people aren’t well and need blood to survive.

Thanks to modern medicine, a healthy person can donate blood. The blood is collected screened, separated into it’s parts and stored before it is given to people who need it.

Some common examples of this include but certainly aren’t limited to:

  • Severe bleeding –  this can happen in child birth, during surgery, after extreme trauma, or due to internal bleeds
  • Sickle Cell Disease – a group of inherited disorders that affect the red blood cells. These unusually shaped red blood cells don’t live as long or carry oxygen as well as normal shaped ones
  • Thalassaemia – a group of inherited blood disorders that cause anaemia (low blood count)
  • Blood Cancers – people with certain cancers of the blood may need transfusions to survive

This is how blood was used in 2014 hospital usage:

  • 67% was used to treat medical conditions
  • 27% was used in surgery
  • 6% was used to replace blood loss after childbirth

So long story short – your blood – the stuff running through your veins right now, can save someones life. Someone else choosing to donate blood could some day save your life.

Can I be honest with you? Sometimes I find that hard to grasp.
I guess because when you are fit and well, the imaginary possibility of one day maybe being sick just doesn’t always seem relevant, you know?

Until it does.

The thing with hindsight is that it is inherently too late.
If we want to keep the life saving process of blood donation – we need foresight. We need to for-see that if those of us who are able to give blood don’t passionately and regularly donate and encourage others to do so, one day there may not be enough blood for you or your future children.

If no one gave blood – there would be no blood to save you. It really is that real.

Giving blood saves lives.

Giving blood is needed.

Giving blood is my responsibility.

Giving blood is our responsibility.

 

 

Doctor Sara

 

 

What is Organ Donation?

Organ Donation is that topic that came up when you got your drivers license – you know the one? Maybe you even saw it on a few advert breaks a couple of weeks ago. But for most of us, it remains largely irrelevant to our lives… if we’re lucky.

I’ll be the first to admit it, organ donation was always irrelevant to my life. By God’s grace, I’ve been blessed with a healthy body, no organ failure or childhood cancers, so the topic of organ donation seldom came up. Until one time in medical school.

We were told the statistics of how 3 people die every day while waiting for a transplant. How black and Asian people are most likely to need a kidney transplant but also least likely to give one. We were told that on average, black and Asain people wait up to 1 year longer than white people while waiting.

I was shocked by how blissfully I had ignored the urgent need for donors all my life. I was saddened that I was not alone in this, and that fact was reflected in the pitiful black and Asian community statistics. So I decided to make it my business to start the conversation before it was too late.  Do you have a moment to save lives?

If so, keep reading.

Let’s start with the basics.

What is organ donation?

Organ donation is basically giving an organ to help someone who needs a transplant.

There are three types of donation –

  1. Living – where the donor gives someone a kidney, small section of the liver or part of a bone while still live and kickin’
  2. Brain Death – where the donor gives an organ after they are certified as brain dead – that is, they have permanently lost the potential to be conscious or able to breathe
  3. Circulatory Death – the donors heart has stopped beating irreversibly.

All pretty dark and unpleasant, right?

Yep.

… but also no. Not really..

We can’t stop death altogether with medicine. Sure – we can delay it, prevent it and make it more comfortable, but the fact remains that we will all one day leave these bodies.

What organ donations offers is a light at the end of life. I mean, think about it – the ability to use the gift of our bodies to save the life of another human from beyond the grave? Wow. That is one of the most powerful legacies I can imagine.

Organ donation isn’t all about death. It’s about life and power and choice.

But Organ donation doesn’t just happen with the wave of a wand. It’s a process. Not everyone passes in a way that enables them to be able to give their organs to someone else.  And when someone does pass in a suitable matter, there’s a delicate process of matching them with the right recipient. Then there’s the consent – discussing with the family of the donor as to whether they would be happy for their loved ones organs to be used to save the life of another.

This is why we need to talk about organ donation. We can’t sit by and wait for life to happen then be shocked and horrified when in 10 years, the statistics remain unchanged.

We need to act and we need to act now.

Do you know your views on organ donation? Do you family know your views?

I invite you to talk to a loved one today. Share your views on organ donation.

One conversation could save a life.

Read more here https://www.organdonation.nhs.uk/register-to-donate/ 

 

XoXo

Dr Sara Sienna