Organ donation is a remarkable gift that can save countless lives. When an organ becomes available for transplant, time is of the essence. Organ donation transportation plays a crucial role in ensuring these life-saving gifts reach their recipients promptly and safely. In this blog, we’ll explore the intricacies of organ transportation and recognise the efforts made by organisations within SERE Group, such as IMT Medical and 247 Aviation Air Ambulance, that work to facilitate organ transport in the UK.
During the week of Monday 18th September 2023, the spotlight shines on the remarkable efforts of the staff at SERE Group as Organ Donation Week unfolds. This week aims to raise awareness about organ donation, and the individuals instrumental in making it possible. The dedicated teams within SERE Group, which include IMT Medical, and 247 Aviation Air Ambulance, exhibit unwavering commitment to the cause as they work tirelessly to facilitate the vital transport of donor organs across the UK. Their relentless efforts ensure the efficient delivery of organs to those in need, underscoring the pivotal role these teams play in saving lives through organ donation transport.
THE PROCESS: FROM DONOR TO RECIPIENT
The organ transplant process begins when medical professionals alert the UK’s organ procurement organisation, NHS Blood & Transplant (NHSBT), on the availability of a donor organ. As NHSBT manage both the NHS Organ Donor Register and the National Transplant Register, they have the tools available to prioritise potential recipients based on medical urgency, organ compatibility, and various other factors.
Once a recipient is identified, the skilled surgical team at the donor’s hospital starts the delicate process of organ recovery, ensuring meticulous preservation and preparation of the organs for transport. Specialised containers are used to ensure the organs are stable and shielded from external factors that may compromise their quality.
Time is a critical factor in organ donation transportation. The moment an organ becomes available, a series of coordinated actions are set into motion. Organs have varying ischemic times – the time an organ can be without a blood supply – before they become unsuitable for the recipient. IMT Medical, NHSBT’s designated organ transport provider, organise the logistics to ensure the timely delivery of the organ to the recipient’s hospital.
Should air transport be required, IMT Medical will engage with SERE Group’s emergency air transport service, 247 Aviation Air Ambulance, provide a round-the-clock, nationwide service to ensure the timely transport of organs to their recipient. With most organs only viable for a few hours following their retrieval, 247 Aviation Air Ambulance aircraft and pilots are ready to take off at a moments notice. Utilising proprietary donor organ tracking and logistics software via IMT Medical, 247 Aviation Air Ambulance are able to quickly formulate the most efficient flight plan to ensure each moment is optimised.
Each organisation involved in the organ transplant process works together seamlessly to ensure the safe and efficient transportation of donor organs, contributing to the lifesaving process of organ transplantation. As well as dramatically improving the length and quality of life for the recipients, organ transplants can ease the pressure on the NHS and its resources. SERE Group acknowledge and appreciate the commitment and dedication of everyone involved in the process, which is often delivered in challenging circumstances, through anti-social hours, and in unfamiliar environments, all across the UK.
ORGAN DONATION: THE BENEFITS
The choice to be an organ donor is a remarkable and selfless act that can not only save lives, but improve the quality of life for individuals. The benefits of organ donation are numerous and far-reaching, touching not only the organ recipients but also their families, the healthcare system, and the wider community.
The most significant benefit of organ donation is that it can save the lives of individuals with organ failure. An organ transplant offers a chance for those suffering from end-stage organ diseases to regain their health and lead full lives.
Improved Quality of Life
Organ transplant recipients often experience a significant improvement in their overall quality of life now that they are free from the constraints of chronic illness. They can return to normal activities, resume their careers, and spend quality time with their loved ones.
Saving Healthcare Resources
When individuals receive an organ transplant, they may no longer need expensive ongoing treatments or continuous medical intervention, resulting in substantial savings for the NHS.
Organ transplantation has spurred medical advancements in surgical techniques, immunosuppressive medications, and post-operative care. These advancements have not only improved transplant success rates, but have also contributed to medical knowledge that benefits patients with a wide range of conditions.
Families Find Comfort
Donating the organs of a deceased loved one can provide families with a sense of comfort and purpose during this very difficult time. Knowing that their loved one’s organs have given others a second chance can bring a sense of solace.
Social and Emotional Satisfaction
Organ donors often experience a deep sense of satisfaction and fulfilment for having made a positive impact on someone else’s life, whether the donor knew the recipient or not. This act of selflessness can lead to increased emotional well-being and a sense of purpose.
Organ donation fosters a sense of community and solidarity. It encourages people to come together for a common cause, reinforcing the notion that every individual has the potential to make a difference in the lives of others.
Addressing Organ Shortages
Organ shortages are a significant challenge in the field of transplantation. By donating organs, individuals contribute to addressing this shortage and help provide lifesaving options for those on transplant waiting lists.
ORGAN DONATION IN THE UK
Organ donation is a topic of profound significance, one that holds the power to save and improve countless lives. In recent years, Northern Ireland and the wider UK have witnessed significant developments in organ donation laws and practices, bringing about a shift in how this life-saving act is perceived and regulated.
In Northern Ireland (NI), a notable change has occurred in the realm of organ donation. The new opt-out system, often referred to as Dáithí’s Law, was introduced to make the process of organ donation more streamlined and effective. This law, which came into effect on 1st June 2023, assumes that individuals aged 18 and above are potential organ donors, unless they explicitly opt out, or are within an excluded group.
While the new opt-out system may raise questions about the compulsory nature of organ donation, it is important to emphasise that donation remains a voluntary act. Individuals still have the choice to opt out if they wish to do so, and the law respects their decision. This change is designed to increase the number of potential donors and reduce the gaps between organ supply and demand, ultimately saving more lives.
Specialist nursing staff continue to engage with families at this difficult time, to address any concerns surrounding donation, faith, and beliefs, and ensure a considerate approach prior to any organ or tissue donation taking place. For more information on this law and its implications, you can visit NHS Organ Donation and Organ Donation NI.
It’s worth noting that the new organ donation law is not exclusive to NI, and extends to the wider UK as well. The opt-out system was already in place in Wales and England, and its introduction in NI further harmonises the organ donation process across the UK. For a comprehensive understanding of organ donation and transplantation services in the UK, you can refer to NHSBT.
Organ transplants have an immense impact on saving lives and providing recipients and their families with a second chance. NHS Blood & Transplant (NHSBT) are playing a vital role in the area of organ donations in the UK, however there is an ongoing challenge of organ shortages and an urgent need for more donors. In 2022/23, NHSBT facilitated over 4,600 transplants throughout the UK which each transplant showcasing the power of selfless donors, and the marvels of the medical teams who carried out the procedures.
Despite the remarkable achievements of organ transplants, the reality remains that there are currently over 7,000 individuals on the UK Transplant Waiting List. The numbers, accompanied by the fact that over 430 people lost their lives while waiting for a donor organ, underscore the urgency for more organ donors. The Department of Health revealed that 59 Northern Irish donors facilitated an impressive 140 life-saving transplants across the UK last year. It is important to understand that not everyone has the opportunity to become an organ donor. This is why Dáithí’s Law which aims to enhance the availability of organ donors in Northern Ireland, is so significant. However, the challenges of organ scarcity and lengthy waiting lists continue to require ongoing attention. Each individual on the waiting list is waiting for their chance, emphasising how crucial it is to register as an organ donor, or have an open conversation with your family so they understand your intention to become a donor.