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Kate encourages people to ‘spell it out’ on organ donation (National Transplant Week 2014)

Tuesday, 09 September, 2014
Kate encourages people to ‘spell it out’ on organ donation (National Transplant Week 2014)

A second specialist organ donation nurse has joined Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust to support patients and families to save lives through organ and tissue donation.

Kate Dreyer has been appointed due to the increased number of families in Northumberland and North Tyneside consenting to organ and tissue donations over the last two years since Tracey Carrott, the trust’s first specialist organ donation nurse, was recruited.

Kate works alongside Tracey at Wansbeck and North Tyneside general hospitals and their dedicated roles have helped the trust have the second highest number of cornea (eye) donations in the region – 34 families consented in the last year. Tissues such as corneas, skin, bone, tendons, cartilage and heart valves are just as vital as organs.  

As part of National Transplant Week 2014 (7 – 13 July), Kate is encouraging people to inform their family and friends that they wish to be donors when they pass away, urging them to ‘spell it out’ in any way they can.

On average, three people a day die in need of an organ transplant in the UK because there are not enough organs available. More lives could potentially be saved if more families agreed to donate their loved ones’ organs after death.

Just 45% of families agree to organ donation going ahead if they are unaware of their loved ones’ decisions to be a donor but this figure rises to 95% when they know the decisions.

Despite the thousands of life-saving transplant operations which take place every year, around 10,000 people are currently in need of a life-saving organ transplant.

Kate said: “Organ donation helps the NHS to save thousands of lives every year however we know that many more could be saved if people’s families were aware that they wished to be donors when they pass away.

“The ‘spell it out’ message of this year’s campaign emphasises that it doesn’t matter how people tell their loved ones their decisions, as long as they do – it can be a note on the fridge or left somewhere safe. Many people do not realise that even though they may be registered as an organ donor ultimately it comes down to their family whether that goes ahead.

“It is great news that we now have two specialist organ donation nurses dedicated to helping families in Northumberland and North Tyneside and ensures that we are able to offer a greater level of support to them at what is an extremely difficult time.

“Northumbria Healthcare is nationally recognised for the quality of end-of-life care it provides to patients and our role is to support families during that next step of organ donation – should they wish to do so – while acting as the link for health professionals.”

The role of a specialist organ donation nurse involves promoting and raising awareness about the value of organ and tissue donation among patients, families and staff and answering questions. They work with families throughout the whole organ donation process.

Kate worked as an intensive care nurse for five years before taking up her first specialist organ donation role in 2012.

“Ever since I qualified as a nurse nine years ago I knew that organ donation was ultimately the area in which I wanted to specialise.

“It is an area of nursing that can often go under people’s radars however it plays such an important role and helps save thousands of lives every year,” she said.

Kate also offers support to North Cumbria University Hospitals NHS Trust.

Sally Johnson, NHS Blood and Transplant’s director of organ donation and transplantation, added: “We know that families are much less likely to allow organ donation to go ahead if they don’t know if it’s what their loved one wanted. So have the conversation and spell it out.

“Tell those closest to you that you want to donate your organs after you die to help some of the 10,000 people in the UK currently in need of a life changing organ transplant.”

For further information about National Transplant Week and to register your organ donation decision, go to