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Organ Donation Week: Having the conversation

As part of Organ Donation Week, NHE’s Matt Roberts spoke with our Managing Director Roy Rowlands about the importance of raising awareness for the subject and having these conversations; as families, organisations and individuals.

We don’t often like to think about the end, but as Organ Donation Week – which has run from September 7 to 13, 2020 – reminds us there is at least one very real reason for these conversations. Your organs could save another’s life. For some organs such as kidneys, it may not even be through one’s own misfortune that the opportunity to help another comes about.

Whatever the circumstances though, honest and open conversations need to be had so that people are aware of and can respectfully follow one another’s wishes.

In England, there has been a change in the organ donation law. Now working on an opt out system, every adult is considered to be willing to be an organ donor unless otherwise stated or part of an excluded group. In order to ensure a person’s wishes are observed, especially as in many circumstances the potential organ donor may themselves be unable to advise, having conversations with trusted people is important; with family, friends and even potentially employers.

Speaking about the topic with our own Managing Director Roy Rowlands, who through personal experience is passionate about the issue, there is a clear need for honesty and awareness. Letting friends and family know is a key step, but equally we spend much of our time out among strangers or at work – for many of us, up to a third of our day is spent in the company of our colleagues.

Should something occur during that time, having ways to ensure our wishes are adhered to is vital. For some, that may mean carrying with them a card. For others, it might mean employers having open conversations with staff. Different ways will work for different people, organisations and situations, but as organ donation is a personal choice, raising awareness to ensure people take the time to make that decision and notify the relevant people is vital.

Roy explained why in his view employers needed to take the prerogative and support staff to donate. Through the creation of a register for organ donation and allowing blood donations during work time, employers can play a significant role.

“I’d encourage every employer to think about setting up a register to know people’s wishes around donating organs and donating or receiving blood. That information is private and should be treated accordingly, but having access to it somewhere as an employer ensures we can be aware of people’s wishes.

“With blood, I’d also say it’s important for employers to allow staff to give blood during employer time, be that singularly or, in some circumstances, in a group.”

More information on organ donation and the option to register or opt out can be accessed here.

You can register your interest to become a blood donor here.

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