Fourteen Isle of Wight residents are currently on the waiting list for an organ donation. Last year, nine Islanders had their lives saved by an organ transplant.

It is believed that Isle of Wight residents are no more likely to miss out on an organ transplant than their mainland counterparts, despite the nearest kidney transplant centre being across the Solent in Portsmouth. Only retrievals take place at St Mary’s hospital. The most common organs to be retrieved are kidney or liver, although there have been heart and lung donors on the Island.

Last year, rumours appeared on social media claiming a woman from the Island had missed out on two kidney transplants, due to receiving the call in the middle of the night and being unable to get the ferry across quickly enough. However, hospital specialists based at St Mary’s believe such a scenario to be unlikely.

“Let your partner know your feelings on organ donation”

When a patient is put on the transplant list, a care plan is created with the hospital team, covering how they will get to the hospital in the case of a transplant. If someone needed an organ to be transplanted in Portsmouth, and the normal day travel time is two hours, that would be taken into their plan. If a patient were offered a kidney overnight, then four hours would be a reasonable time to expect to allow them to get across.

An understanding exists between cross-Solent transport operators and the Isle of Wight NHS Trust in such situations. If a patient were to receive the call saying an organ was available at Portsmouth, the ferry company would help give the individual priority boarding.

NHS Blood and Transplant are urging people to talk to their families about organ donation to increase the number of people whose lives can be saved, or transformed, by an organ transplant. This is because a recent survey of adults in England for NHS Blood and Transplant found that while 84 per cent agreed it was important to let those closest to you know your view on organ donation, only 40 per cent had shared their organ donation decision with their family or partner.

According to data gathered from an NHS table of organ donor registers, 60,950 people are registered as organ donors on the Isle of Wight, 43 per cent of the Island’s population. 

However, from Spring of 2020, all adults in England will be considered to have agreed to donate their organs when they die unless they have recorded a decision not to donate, or are in one of the excluded groups. Even after the law has changed, however, families will still be approached before donation goes ahead.

Colin Clarke
Author: Colin Clarke