‘Let’s Talk’ – families invited to discuss organ donation amid ever-increasing number of children awaiting heart transplants

NUMBERS showing a significant increase in the number of children awaiting heart transplants underscore the urgent need for families to have difficult conversations about organ donation.

That’s the message from the family of five-year-old Belfast boy Dáithí Mac Gabhann, who has been on the waiting list for a new heart for four years.

Comments from the ‘Donate4Dáithí’ campaign come as NHS Blood and Transplant figures revealed the number of children waiting for hearts across the UK has risen year on year from from 26 in March 2018 to 49 in July 2022.

The NHS body said 36 children received heart transplants in 2017/18. But over the past four years, that number has averaged 25 to 26 per year.

New legislation, known as “Dáithí’s Law”, is due to come into force in Northern Ireland in spring 2023.

The law will introduce an “opt-out” system for organ donation, but only for adults.

The “Donate4Dáithí” campaign said it highlights the need for families to engage in difficult conversations.

Reacting to the growing waiting list, Dáithí’s family said: “This is why our campaign cannot afford to lose momentum. Talking about organ donation can be difficult for people, especially when it comes to children.

“However, after talking with families and parents over the past few years, we feel that our society is ready to learn more about pediatric organ donation and to challenge these statistics.

“Having these difficult conversations can create hope for Dáithí and the other 48 children, and all those other people waiting for a lifesaving transplant.”

That message was echoed by the Stormont Department of Health, who said the figures ‘underscore the urgent need that exists for organ donors to come forward’.

A spokesperson for Robin Swann’s department said: “Dáithí and the other 48 children across the UK who are on the waiting list for heart transplants are dependent on families at one of the most painful times in their lives. life, to consider making the decision to offer the chance to offer a chance to save the life of another child.

The statement states that when Dáithí’s law comes into force “it will strengthen the current legislative framework regarding organ donation and increase the current rate of consent in the small number of cases in which it is clinically possible for organ donation continues after the death of a person”. .

In a separate statement, a UK-wide NHS Blood and Transplant spokesperson said: ‘There has been an increase in the number of children on the waiting list for heart transplants, a technology like the hearts of Berlin increases the waiting time for a patient. , giving more time to find a donor.

“The number of children who give each year is low, around 50, and the number whose hearts are fit for giving is even lower.

“The size of the heart must then be adapted to the patient, so it is difficult to find hearts for children who are waiting.

“Children’s families are also less likely to say yes to organ donation.

“We encourage all families to speak up about organ donation, with their support we could save even more lives.”

To sign the organ donor registry or for more information, visit organdonationni.info.

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