PHA publishes organ donation survey findings

Wednesday, 16 October 2013 – Communication and Knowledge Management
PHA publishes organ donation survey findings

The Public Health Agency (PHA) will today [Wednesday 16 October] reveal the findings from its public attitudes research on organ donation and transplantation in Northern Ireland.

Dr Eddie Rooney, Chief Executive of the PHA and Chair of the Northern Ireland Committee for Organ Donation and Transplantation, said: “Organ donation really is the gift of life. The generosity of donors and their families enhances or saves the lives of recipients across Northern Ireland.

“Despite many advances and awareness-raising activities by various organisations in recent years on the issue of organ donation, still only 31% of the population in Northern Ireland are on the NHS Organ Donor Register (ODR). In Northern Ireland almost 200 people are currently waiting for a transplant and sadly the chance will come too late for many.”

In April 2013, Health Minister Edwin Poots commissioned the PHA to develop a public information campaign to enhance awareness and understanding of organ donation, to encourage everyone to sign the ODR and to tell their loved ones their wishes.

To prepare for this campaign, a programme of engagement was designed including a public attitudes survey conducted in June and a series of discussion groups with key stakeholders which were convened between June and August.

Dr Rooney continued: “The purpose of this programme of work was to increase our understanding of the key factors which need to be addressed to ensure an increase in the availability of organs for transplantation. This will also help inform future action to promote organ donation in Northern Ireland.

“The good news is that the research findings show that general support for the concept of organ donation for transplantation was extremely high (84%) and that the majority of respondents would take an organ if they needed one.

“However, knowledge of organ donation and how to register is low. One important finding from the public attitudes survey is that more than a third of those surveyed were not aware of the ODR. There is also too high a level of misunderstanding about organ donation.

“Most importantly, when asked about the issue of consent, 78% of respondents said we should discuss our wishes with our loved ones, yet only 38% said that they have done this.

“We will build on the knowledge this research has provided to develop a campaign that will raise awareness and understanding of the issue of organ donation in Northern Ireland, encourage people to talk about their wishes regarding organ donation with family and friends, and increase awareness of the ODR and how to sign up.

“The aim will be to encourage a shift in behaviour that will enable Northern Ireland to match world- class performance in organ donation and transplantation, resulting in a greater number of people’s lives being improved and saved.”

If you have not already signed the ODR, please take the time to fill in a form online at www.organdonation.nhs.uk,  alternatively text DONATE to 62323 or call the NHS Donor line on 0300 123 23 23. It is important that you discuss your wishes with the people closest to you so that, if the time ever comes, they will find it easier to carry out your wishes.

To view the full research report please click here.