ALMOST half of organ donors’ wishes have gone unheeded - because their grieving families were not aware of the decision to help save lives after death.
Now South Yorkshire donors are being urged to make sure they tell loved ones that they have signed up to the NHS organ donor register.
The message comes as The Star’s Gift of Life campaign aims to recruit 12,000 more donors before The Westfield Health British Transplant Games are held in Sheffield this summer.
Readers have already signed up to the cause, which revealed five people in the region died waiting for a transplant in the last eight months.
Three patients die every day in the UK for the same reason - but that figure could be reduced if donor wishes are shared.
Lynne Holt, a trustee of Transplant Sport UK, which is behind the games, was in Sheffield for meetings yesterday.
The heart and lung transplant co-ordinator at Newcastle’s Freeman Hospital told The Star: “We know that over 40 per cent of families refuse to give consent.
“We need to get the message to the public that they should talk to their families about their wishes, and then we could have more donors. It’s a tragedy they are lost.
“We’re losing organs because families are still saying no and most of them were not aware of the donor’s wishes, and of course this is the most traumatic time of their lives.
“But if they’d known the wishes of the deceased they wouldn’t need to make this decision.
“How wonderful to be able to save so many lives after you die when no good comes out of most deaths.
“It also brings a lot of comfort to bereaved families.”
In total 45 per cent of families do not agree to their loved one’s organ donation - but they are twice as likely to support it if they know it is what the deceased wanted.
The transplant games will see hundreds of inspirational survivors compete in 21 different sports, from archery to athletics, in August.
Lynne added: “It’s the most amazing emotional experience. I have seen linesmen who haven’t been able to see properly because of tears in their eyes.
“Even after so many years I’m overwhelmed by the miracles.”