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Thursday, 18 December 2014

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Nurses spearhead campaign to save lives using tissue donation

MOST people are aware of how donated organs can save lives – but a new scheme will encourage nurses to ask about the lesser-known practice of tissue donation.

Nurses in the area’s hospitals will receive special training in how to ask newly bereaved families if they would like to find out more about tissue donation, which will become standard practice in end-of-life care.

University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Foundation Trust says donated tissues such as skin, bone and heart valves can save lives and dramatically improve the quality of life for patients. As many as 50 people can be helped by donations from one person.

Bereavement nurse specialist Carole Palmer, of Furness General Hospital, said families were often not aware their loved one could be a donor, but most people are suitable.

She said: “The person can be 80-years-old or sometimes older. People who have had cancer can usually still become donors.” She said it was important to offer families the choice and it was often a chance to fulfil the patients’ wishes.

She said: “One family was really pleased to be asked, saying that the person always helped people in life and it was great to think they were able to carry on helping people even in death.”

The nurses will be trained to give them the knowledge and confidence to explain the process.

Nurses on the wards and departments across the trust will be trained by the bereavement staff, including nurse Kirrin Ingham, who was herself the recipient of a sight-restoring corneal transplant.

From January to June this year, there have been 17 referrals made from Furness General Hospital, building on the success of tissue donation at Royal Lancaster Infirmary which has the highest emergency department referral rate in the country and has referred 22 so far this year.

The trust has also arranged two Twitter Q&As with specialist nurses to help raise awareness of its role in organ and tissue donation.

Nurse Palmer took part in a Twitter chat about tissue donation on Tuesday while organ donation specialist nurse Sarah Ralley answered questions about organ donation yesterday from noon until 1pm.

The trust’s Twitter handle is @uhmbt with the hashtag #GiveLifeQA.

Anyone wishing to join the Organ and Tissue Donor Register should visit www.organdonationnhs.uk for more information.

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