ORGAN donors in Swindon are being urged to discuss their wishes with their families before it is too late and another life is lost.

Health chiefs at the Great Western Hospital are calling on residents, even those already signed up to the organ donor register, to talk about their decision with their relatives during National Transplant Week.

The UK has one of the lowest rates of family consent for organ donation in the world, due to less than a quarter of the population talking about their choice with a loved one.

When the time comes to request organ donation, family members are often unaware of their relative’s decision and, together with the shock and grief of the moment, refuse permission for their loved one to be a donor.

More than 20 people in the GWH catchment area across Swindon and Wiltshire have died since 2009 while waiting for a kidney, lung or liver transplant.

Dr Malcolm Watters, clinical lead for organ donation at Great Western Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, said: “It is vitally important for people to make their families aware of their wishes around organ donation. Signing the Organ Donor register is not enough.

“Around 2,000 people die at the Great Western Hospital each year, but on average only 10 of those will actually die in a manner whereby organ donation is a possibility. If we lose just one donation, then we have lost 10 per cent of our donations for the entire year.”

As of the beginning of April, there are 60 people in the Swindon area on the transplant waiting list.

Terry Sell, 60, from Lyneham, was given a new liver in 2009 at GWH after his was on the brink of failure.

He said: “Having a new liver was the difference between life and death for me.

“It’s so important for people on the donor register to talk about their decision with their family. If the person who donated their liver to me hadn’t, I know that I would not be here today.”

Dr Watters added: “We want people’s decisions to save the lives of others to be carried out whenever possible. This is much more likely to happen if they’ve told those closest to them about their decision to donate.”

New liver saved a life

LITTLE Josh Nesbit would not be here today if it had not been for the liver transplant that saved his life.

The four-year-old from Royal Wootton Bassett was diagnosed with rare disease biliary atresia when he was born, a disease that affects the liver in newborn infants.

Josh eventually received a liver transplant donated by a woman who never even knew him last July.

Mum Karen, 34, said: “I would really urge people to tell their families if they want to donate their organs because I think at the moment even if you are on the donor register your family still needs to give consent.

“At the end of the day you’re not going to need them any more and there are people out there who do and you could save someone’s life.

“If Josh hadn’t had the transplant he would have died. When they removed his liver they said that it was in a bad way, and it would have taken only one more thing.

“Now he is a completely different boy, he’s more active, he’s happy and he’s running around.”