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More people in Norfolk and Suffolk saving lives through organ donation

Ken Harris, of Reydon. Picture: MICK HOWES

Ken Harris, of Reydon. Picture: MICK HOWES

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New figures reveal 54 people in Norfolk and Suffolk became lifesaving deceased organ donors over the last year.

Ken Harris, of Reydon. Picture: MICK HOWESKen Harris, of Reydon. Picture: MICK HOWES

NHS Blood and Transplant has released the figures to mark the publication of its annual Transplant Activity Report today (Monday, July 9).

The report reveals there is growing support for organ donation in Norfolk and Suffolk, and around the country.

Nationally, there was a record number of organ donors, with 1574 people saving lives through deceased organ donation over the last year.

However the overall shortage of donors remains and there is an urgent need for more people to support donation.

Ken Harris in The Harley Street Clinic after a heart transplant and just before he was transferred to Harefield Hospital. His wife, Maureen, is by his bedside. Picture: COTRIBUTED BY KEN HARRISKen Harris in The Harley Street Clinic after a heart transplant and just before he was transferred to Harefield Hospital. His wife, Maureen, is by his bedside. Picture: COTRIBUTED BY KEN HARRIS

Around three people die a day in need of a donated organ but many people have never told their relatives they want to save lives. Letting your family know that you want to donate will make it much easier for them to support what you want.

One man who received a heart from a young woman who died of a brain haemorrhage was Ken Harris, who is believed to be the fifth oldest living heart transplant recipient in England.

Mr Harris, 85, from Reydon, near Southwold, was 53 when he had his transplant in 1986.

“The point I always like to make is that I am grateful that the next of kin honoured their loved one’s wishes to be a donor,” he said.

“Sadly, on too many occasions, the next of kin of people who have got a donor card, or are on the register, when the time comes won’t agree to the donation being made.”

There are still 52 people from Norfolk and 40 from Suffolk on the transplant waiting list and a donated organ is the last and only hope for many people on the list.

Seven of those are in Norwich, and 11 in Ipswich.

Sally Johnson, director of organ donation and transplantation for NHS Blood and Transplant, said: “We’re incredibly grateful to all the families in Norfolk and Suffolk who have chosen to say yes to organ donation. Organ donation is the only hope for many desperately ill people. We know many families feel a sense of pride and comfort from their decision to save lives through organ donation. We want more people to have that opportunity.”

The annual report also demonstrates how the ageing population means the average age of potential donors is increasing.

The average age of donors in Norfolk during the 2017 calendar year was 55, and 51 in Suffolk.

Anyone can join the NHS Organ Donor Register, age and medical conditions are not necessarily a barrier to donation. However many over 50s don’t join the NHS Organ Donor Register or tell their families they want to donate because they do not think their organs could help other people.

Sally Johnson said: “We need more people aged over 50 in Norfolk and Suffolk to support donation. People in older age groups can still save and transform lives through organ and tissue donation. Many more lives could be saved by telling their families they want to donate.”

• Tell your family you want to save lives through organ donation and join the NHS Organ Donor Register at www.organdonation.nhs.uk

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