Although the number of people donating organs after death has risen 50 percent since 2008, more donors are needed. Churches have been called on to help in a campaign backed by the Baptist Union of Great Britain.
National Health Service (NHS) Blood and Transplant recently revealed that organ donations have been on the rise.
More than 1,200 people in the United Kingdom donated their organs last year, leading to about 3,100 transplants.
The increase in people donating has been largely credited to the network of specialist nurses who approach and support bereaved relatives in hospitals.
But with the numbers on the organ donation register remaining unchanged, NHS Blood and Transplant is still asking for more people to register.
More than 1,000 people die each year in the U.K. waiting for an organ transplant.
Campaigners for the FleshAndBlood campaign, which is supported by several denominations including the Baptist Union of Great Britain, believe churches’ commitment to generosity can raise the profile of organ donation in the U.K.
“The NHS has worked hard to ensure every potential donor is identified, that the organ donation register is checked, and that families are approached,” said Sally Johnson with NHS Blood and Transplant.
“But the NHS can’t do it on its own. We need a transformation in donor and family consent because the U.K.’s family refusal rate remains one of the highest in Europe.”
The FleshAndBlood campaign, launched in January, specifically calls on the church to increase the number of blood and organ donors in the U.K.
Founded as a two-year partnership between creative agency KORE and NHS Blood and Transplant, the initiative aims to profile the need for more blood and organ donors and to encourage donation as an additional method of personal giving within churches.
“We want to congratulate NHS Blood and Transplant for their hard work in achieving their 50 percent target. This is encouraging news and we’re looking forward to building on this progress,” Juls Hollidge, FleshAndBlood campaign director, said.
“There are still a number of people missing out on vital treatment due to a lack of organs available in the U.K,” Hollidge said. “We hope to see this change throughout the campaign by raising awareness and helping to increase the number of organ donors further.”
Every day, 7,000 units of blood are needed to meet hospital demand, with approximately 225,000 extra blood donors needed each year to maintain consistency.
The church, which has a long history of giving and generosity and has millions of people across the country as its members, is ideally placed to raise awareness and help to meet the need for blood and organ donation in the U.K.
“Our research shows that 48 percent of Christians are on the organ donor register, but only 24 percent have discussed their wishes with friends and family,” Hollidge said. “We want to encourage individuals not only to make a decision to donate, but to enable and empower them to share and discuss that decision with others.”
Readers in the United Kingdom can join the NHS Organ Donor Register by texting ‘FAB ORGAN’ to 62323 or registering online at fleshandblood.org/register.