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Tracey shares ‘Pass It On’ message as organ donations double

Wednesday, 09 July, 2014
Tracey shares ‘Pass It On’ message as organ donations double

A specialist organ donation nurse working at Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust has helped double the amount of patients and families consenting to give the precious gift of life through organ donation.

Since her appointment two years ago, Tracey Carrott – who is based at Wansbeck General Hospital – has seen the number of families consenting to organ donation increase from seven donors in 2010/11 to 15 donors in 2012/13.

Thanks to Tracey’s dedicated role, Northumbria Healthcare has also seen tissue donations increase by over 60 per cent since 2010/11, with 124 families consenting to donate the gift of tissue from their loved ones in the past year – this includes tissue such as corneas, skin, bone, tendons, cartilage and heart valves which are just as vital as organs themselves. 

As part of National Transplant Week 2013 (8 – 14 July), Tracey will be sharing the ‘Pass It On’ message to encourage people to pass on their donation wishes to their loved ones, stressing the importance of having a conversation.

Although there are over 700,000 people on the NHS Organ Donor Register in the North East, less than half of families agree to donation when their loved ones donation wishes aren’t known.  So far this year, only 32 people living in the North East have benefited from a life-saving transplant*.

Tracey said: “To donate an organ or tissue is a truly remarkable gift and helps the NHS to save hundreds of lives every single year.  Being able to work in this dedicated role and having the time to spend with families has undoubtedly helped increase our donation numbers at Northumbria Healthcare.

“My job is about educating healthcare professionals, as well as patients and families, about donation and most crucially making sure people understand the consent process.  Many people who are registered as organ donors may not realise that it is actually their family members who ultimately decide whether donation can go ahead.

“It is so important people talk to their loved ones about their organ donation wishes which is why we are supporting the National Transplant Week ‘Pass It On’ campaign.”

60-year-old Anne Simpson from Hadston in Northumberland helped to give the gift of life after the heartbreak of suddenly losing her husband, Brian, in March last year after 36 years of marriage.  63-year-old Brian died after suffering a severe stroke which left him in a coma and brain damaged.

After speaking with Tracey and the team at Wansbeck General Hospital, Anne took the decision to donate Brian’s kidney, a heart valve as well as some skin.  Although Brian was not registered as an organ donor, Anne knew that her husband would want to give whatever was possible and she was able to give consent on his behalf.

Anne said:  “The team at Wansbeck were really amazing and handled things very sensitivity and with the utmost compassion in very distressing circumstances for me and my family.

“Brian’s brother actually received a kidney transplant himself many years ago and has been able to live a full and happy life and because of this I know Brian wouldn’t hesitate to help someone else.  Our son served in the army and the skin Brian has donated will go to help wounded soldiers serving in Afghanistan which would also make him very proud.

“Having Tracey on hand to explain things and talk us through the process step by step was a real godsend and we are still in touch today.  As a family we have found great comfort in knowing that Brian has been able to give such valuable donations and we recently received a very touching thank you letter from the recipient of his kidney.

“I would really encourage everyone to talk to their loved ones about the subject of organ and tissue donation as so many more people who are waiting for transplants could be saved and lead much more fulfilling lives.”

Tracey Carrott is a senior nurse who has worked with critically ill patients in the north east NHS for over 30 years.  She covers the whole of Northumberland and North Tyneside, working with patients, families and staff to increase awareness about the precious gift of organ and tissue donation and answer questions about the process.

Tracey added: “The key message we want to get across is for families to talk to each other about donation – simply being registered as an organ donor is not enough as it is your loved ones who will have to make decisions”.

For further information about National Transplant Week, including information about local events and how people can support the campaign, go to www.transplantweek.co.uk.

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