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#NurChat - 'Pass it on' when it comes to organ donation

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Did you miss the latest #NurChat Twitter debate about organ donation? Let us sum it up for you…

The latest #NurChat Twitter debate covered the topic of organ donation and transplant. For the chat we were joined by two very special guests; @KirstieTancock was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis from birth and underwent a double lung transplant just under a year ago, and @angeladitchfiel is a specialist nurse in organ donation with NHS Blood and Transplant.

With National Transplant Week making national news last week, we wanted to bring the topic to the attention of NurChat in order to discuss several issues, including communication of ODR status between family members and ‘opt in’ versus ‘opt out’ systems for registering donors.

The discussion opened with some key points about ‘opt in’ versus ‘opt out’:

@KirstieTancock ‘I don’t agree with opt out it would cost too much and wouldn’t achieve much #wasteofmoney’

@Lil_Miss_Leigh ‘I like the idea of opt out. Has it been trialled anywhere? #NurChat’

@iclaire83 ‘sounds in theory like a good idea IF EVERYONE knows that they have to opt out AND opting out needs to be easily accessible. #NurChat’

@AngelaDitchfiel ‘I am not sure about the opt out system currently the welsh government are discussing this option #Nurchat’

@KirstieTancock ‘I’ve looked into opt out a lot it really isn’t a wise move, I don’t disagree just believe it’s not going to achieve what we want it to #NurChat’

The news that Wales are going to trial an ‘opt out’ system came during National Transplant Week last week, and following the publication of a white paper in Nov 2011, the ‘opt out’ system could be in place by 2015. It was also highlighted that other EU countries do use the ‘opt out’ system with varying levels of success.

@mikkywatt ‘did a piece on this at Uni, Belgium uses opt out, still similar levels of donation though #NurChat’

@Mrs_Tufty ‘Spain use opt out scheme don’t they? Think they’ve seen massive increase in transplants #NurChat’

Education and communication were two key themes that ran through the entire discussion. Without the communication of a person’s wishes for organ donation, the donation may not proceed after death.

@nursefriendly ‘The key is #education when people are #healthy, at #doctors visits, at schools, let them know of the need in advance. #NurChat’

@KirstieTancock ‘I think the key is still education in schools, have it part of the syllabus make ODR the norm instead of abnorm #nurchat’

@AngelaDitchfiel ‘The best thing to do is let your family know your wishes as they are the ones left with the final decision #Nurchat’

@MissSeaPeaches ‘That is why it’s key for people to have discussions about end of life before they ever get ill #NurChat’

Communication between families was highlighted as a major cause of organ donations failing to proceed. Even if the individual is on the ODR, a family can veto donation if they choose and @AngelaDitchfiel confirmed this by tweeting: ‘If a patient is on the ODR and the family don’t consent then donation will not happen.’

It was mentioned that dying can still be a taboo topic, so the conversation about organ donation may be very difficult for families and healthcare professionals alike, but it’s one issue we must overcome with education and communication. Angela also commented that the specialist organ donation team are there to facilitate the communication between individuals and their families when it comes to organ donation, and the earlier that contact is made with the team, the more help they can be.

Special thanks go to Angela Ditchfield, NHS Blood and Transplant, for her contribution, and to Kirstie Tancock for adding an essential first-hand perspective to the discussion.

You can read the full transcript of the chat on

Catch up with you at the next #NurChat online on 31 July 2012.

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