Opt-out donor register a 'no-brainer' say transplant patients from Sheffield

Natalie Acott as a child on dialysis before her kidney transplant
Natalie Acott as a child on dialysis before her kidney transplant
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Transplant patients from Sheffield have welcomed a 'long-overdue' move to increase organ donations.

The public are due to be consulted later this year about switching to an opt-out donor register in England, which is already in place in Wales and being introduced in Scotland.

Natalie today with her partner Tony

Natalie today with her partner Tony

That would mean people's organs could be used following their death to save others' lives unless they have stated their opposition.

Sam Blackburn, from Killamarsh, was born with chronic kidney failure and received a transplant from a deceased donor in 2007.

He got a new one from a live donor this summer as part of an innovative donor-swap scheme which saw his brother Josh, who was not a suitable match for Sam, donate a kidney in exchange to another recipient.

"An opt-out register is an amazing thing to bring into place, which in my view is long overdue," said the 32-year-old, who spent 18 months on dialysis machines through the night while waiting for a kidney but now says he feels great.

Sam Blackburn after undergoing a kidney transplant this summer

Sam Blackburn after undergoing a kidney transplant this summer

"It will help save hundreds of lives and cut down waiting times, giving people the chance to get on with their lives.

"For me and for those who've seen what I've been through, it's a no-brainer."

Natalie Acott, from Southey, was born with the inherited kidney disorder PKD and had a transplant shortly before her second birthday.

The 24-year-old debt collector said it was 'about blooming time' an opt-out donor register is introduced.

Sam undergoing dialysis, with his brother Josh by his bed

Sam undergoing dialysis, with his brother Josh by his bed

"Wales has already got it and I don't understand what's taking us so long," she added.

"If it wasn't for my transplant, I would be dead. If you're prepared to receive an organ, or would want one to be available for a loved one, you should be prepared to give one."

Prime minister Theresa May last Wednesday announced plans for a 12-week public consultation, which she said would begin later this year. The consultation will also seek people's views on other ways to increase rates of organ donation.

Around 6,500 people are currently waiting for a transplant, with up to three people dying each day because a suitable organ is not available.

The number of organ donors is rising but remains particularly low among black people and those from ethnic minorities.

People must currently sign up to the donor register if they want their organs to be used after their death, though a family member can agree to them being donated has their relative not made their wishes known.

* To sign up to the organ donor register, visit www.organdonation.nhs.uk.