'Help turn the tide and sign up to be an organ donor'

Steve Gazzard with a cake that marks the 600th organ donor sign up event that has resulted in over 6

Steve Gazzard has helped more than 8,000 people to sign up to be organ donors - Credit: Archant

Organ donation is something few of us think about or discuss with our close friends and family.

That is until there comes a time when either we or someone we know is in need of a transplant or a loved one passes away. These can often be emotionally charged situations clouded in uncertainty.
 
Donation, even from one person, can save many lives. On May 20, 2020, the law around organ donation in England changed. Since then, it is considered that you agree to become an organ donor when you die if you are over 18 and have not opted out.
 
This change came about due in part to the dedicated campaigning efforts of individuals across our country. Locally, Cllr Steve Gazzard has been a real tour de force. His own personal tragedy led to a concerted effort in Exmouth to highlight the need for more donors on the register. You’d often see Steve outside the Magnolia Centre on a Saturday. His efforts have helped contribute to over 8,000 people signing up in Exmouth to be organ donors before the change in the law.
 
Despite the opt-out system, when someone dies the family is still consulted on whether donation is an option. In fact, in many cases, the family do not know what the wishes of the deceased were. Even though the deceased may have been content with being a donor, if this is not registered, or the next-of-kin do not agree to the donation, the opportunity to save or improve someone else’s life is missed despite well-meaning intentions.
 
The number of patients awaiting a transplant has grown in recent years. The change in the law by the government is one way to turn the tide, as are NHS awareness campaigns like Organ Donation Week. Here in East Devon, we can play our part to help others in need. I encourage you to register your decision at organdonation.nhs.uk and have that conversation with your loved ones so they have the certainty they need which could help save a life.