National Transplant Week
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Richard Branson, Homeland's David Harewood, news presenter Kay Burley and Emmerdale's Wil Johnson urge people to pass on their organ donation wishes



To mark the start of this year's National Transplant Week (July 8-14), some of the UK's best known communicators are showing the public how important and easy it is to let those closest to them know that they want to be an organ donor.

David Harewood, Kay Burley and Wil Johnson feature in a series of short memorable films which inspire people to have a conversation about organ donation with their loved ones. Also supporting the campaign is Richard Branson, whose film highlights the need for people to sign up to the Organ Donor Register.

Having a conversation about organ donation is vitally important as one thousand people a year, that's three a day, die in the UK because of a shortage of organs for transplant. Despite the thousands of life-saving transplant operations which take place every year, around 7,300 people are on the transplant waiting list in the UK

The latest statistics show that while 95% of families agree to donation if a loved one is registered and has discussed their wishes, this drops to only 46% when donation wishes aren't known.

Each film is an intimate and personal interpretation of a conversation explaining why they support organ donation and more crucially showing just how easy it can be to let your loved ones know you have signed up to the Organ Donor Register.

NHS Blood and Transplant is encouraging people to watch the films at www.youtube.com/transplantweek and talk to those closest to them about their donation wishes and sign up to the Organ Donor Register.

According to news presenter Kay Burley, "When I signed up to become an organ donor I just assumed that was it. Job done. Then I started thinking how would anyone know I'd signed up if I'd never actually told them? Being an organ donor is important to me because I wouldn't hesitate to say yes, if someone close to me needed an organ so it's only right I am able to help save someone's life after my death too."

Sally Johnson, NHS Blood and Transplant's Director of Organ Donation and Transplantation, added:

"We need a transformation in donor and family consent to organ donation because the UK's family refusal rate remains one of the highest in Europe. Until we see a shift in consent, each year thousands of viable organs will be cremated or buried leaving others to die needlessly.

"I would urge you to watch these fantastic films and have a conversation with those around you. We want more people to consent to organ donation so that the UK can be proud of a donation record that matches the best in the world.

"Besides having the conversation about organ donation, signing up to the NHS Organ Donor Register remains crucial. Joining is quick and easy - to register visit transplantweek.co.uk, call 0300 123 2323 or text DONATE to 62323."

For further information about National Transplant Week, go to www.transplantweek.co.uk, keep an eye on www.facebook.com/organdonationuk and follow us on twitter @NHSOrganDonor.

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