Organ donation is currently taking a prominent role in the future of health in Northern Ireland. Stormont in consultation with the Department of Health is is currently running a public consultation debating possible changes in organ donation law. If the consultation receives public support North-ern Ireland will move from an ‘opt-in’ system to an ‘opt-out system’. ‘opt-out’ system means that all competent adults will be assumed to be an organ donor unless stated otherwise.

It is vital to educate and raise awareness of organ donation. In Northern Ireland 84% of the population supports organ donation but less than half are registered organ donors.

A module in organ donation education is offered in Aquinas as part of the enrichment curriculum. As a past participant of the programme I learnt about all the different types of organs which can be donated, what life is like for someone on the transplant waiting list and how receiving a donated organ can completely transform someone’s life.

Visits from Specialist Nurses in Organ Donations and professionals in the field were highly informative and showed the importance of education and raising awareness of the issue. The Anthony Nolan Trust also paid a visit to Aquinas, showcasing the importance of stem cell donation and a group of students, including myself, became student stem cell ambassadors and assisted in the running of a donor drive where 42 new stem cell donors were added to the register.

 

 


I was fortunate to attend a lecture given by Dr Tim Brown, consultant kidney transplant surgeon, who came to Aquinas in January of 2020. We discovered the journey a patient goes through from dialysis to transplant and the journey the organ itself goes through from donor to recipient. Mr Brown and the team have helped Northern Ireland become a world class centre in kidney transplan-tation. For such a small country Northern Ireland has one of the highest number of living kidney donors per head in the world. Mr Brown’s humble words and dedication to his patients inspired me to explore my interest in the subject.

 

As a St John Ambulance cadet I formed a team with cadets from England to create a webinar to be broadcast as part of the national YOUTH LIVE series, in the hopes of educating other cadets and raising awareness of organ donation. In our presentation we discussed the law surrounding organ donation, the types of organs that can be transplanted and the common medical conditions that lead to someone being placed on the transplant waiting list.

 

 

When it comes to organ donation having the conversation with your loved ones is essential. When completing the enrichment programme we created a GIF for organ donation week #TellYourLovesOnes to spread the word on social media.

Sharing your wishes with those close to you is essential in helping save lives. We can all make a dif-ference by becoming organ donors, each one of us can give the gift of life to up to 9 people after our deaths. Make sure you can make a difference by registering as an organ donor and sharing this information with your family and friends.

 

#TellYourLovedOnes

Written by Katie Burns