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Many people want to be generous to others, even at the point of their
own demise, but tend to shy away from sensitive decisions and conversations in advance. The question of organ and tissue donation is
sometimes awkward for grieving relatives but the precious gift can becritical for those waiting for a transplant.

The use of a dead person’s organs and tissue is relatively small at about 1,400 times a year but makes a major difference. Mark Piotr, for
example, had opted into the NHS Organ Donor Register and told his wife before he later died from a catastrophic brain bleed. She praises him as a selfless person. The gift of his heart, liver, kidneys, lungs, pancreas, corneas and tissue saved and improved the lives of eight people, fulfilled his clear wishes, and brought his wife a measure of joy and hope in her darkest hours.

But there has long been a shortage of organs for transplant because too few people have opted into donating or told their families. That shortage means the needless death of at least one person a day while thousands more must wait.

Medics and MPs have long discussed reforming the system and a powerful example inspired what is known as Max and Keira’s law. Max was nine when he was diagnosed with heart disease and needed a transplant. But doctors were powerless to accelerate the search for a new heart as Max languished on hospital life machines for eight months. A new heart came following the sad death in a car crash of a nine year old girl, Keira.

Max and Keira’s law begins in April in England and presumes automatic
consent to organ donation unless you have opted out. It could save
hundreds of lives each year.

Some groups are also excluded: those who are under 18, lack the mental capacity to understand the change, have lived in England for under a year before death, or are not here voluntarily.

Whatever you choose and whatever your age, please tell your family so they and doctors can support your wishes. You should also tell your family if you change your decision. A specialist nurse will work with the family to help ensure this is supported, according to your latest known decision on the NHS Organ Donor Register or what you have told your family.

Your family can inform doctors about any requests or requirements you may have to help ensure that organ donation is in line with your faith or beliefs. Your family can also provide important information about your medical, travel, and social history that helps confirm that your organs can safely be given to someone else.

Many people don’t yet know the law is changing and only a minority has opted in or told their family. The NHS has launched a ‘Pass it on’
information campaign to highlight the new organ donation law and your rights. You can find out more at www.organdonation.nhs.ukand it is quick and easy to join or opt out of the NHS Organ Donor Register.

There is also a serious shortage of blood donations to help people who are injured and desperately need transfusions. I know there are about 1,600 active blood donors in my constituency of North Tyneside and many more across the North East. But the NHS needs nearly 400 new donors a day to meet demand and 135,000 new donors each year to replace those who can no longer give a blood donation. Please consider giving blood to save others.

I understand that preparing for the worst and taking the time to give
blood are difficult for some, but such acts of altruism can make a huge difference to others, as it could be if you’re struck down with disease. Please take a good look at the public information campaign on Max and Keira’s law and take action urgently.


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The History of Parliament