Organ Donation

98% of WI members voted on the organisation’s new campaign on Saturday (7th June 2014) at the National Federation of Women’s Institutes (NFWI) Annual Meeting, imploring all members to discuss their wishes regarding organ donation with their family and friends. The resolution: “The NFWI notes that three people die every day whilst waiting for an organ transplant. We call on every member of the WI to make their wishes regarding organ donation known, and to encourage their families and friends, and members of their local communities to do likewise” will now become the campaigning focus for over 212,000 WI members across England, Wales and the Islands.

WI members have campaigned for organ donation as far back as 1952, and asked for the Organ Donor Register to be set up in 1972 so this resolution follows a long history of highlighting the importance of organ donation and of ensuring that organ donors’ wishes are known. This renewed call for a conversation to make your intentions about organ donation clear goes one step further by encouraging WI members – and their friends and family – to discuss an often uncomfortable topic. We hope the campaign will abolish myths, banish the taboos about this conversation, raise awareness of the need for donation and prevent confusion over individual wishes if organ donation is a consideration.

The UK’s organ donation consent rate is amongst the lowest in Europe, yet while only 30% of the UK population is on the Register, over 80% of people say they are willing to donate organs or consider donating after their death. There is huge public support for donation but despite recent successful campaigns, there are a number of reasons why this hasn’t translated into an increase in consent rates for organ donation.

Marylyn Haines Evans, Public Affairs Chair of the NFWI, said:

“WI members have never been afraid of making their voices heard when an issue is important however difficult the conversation might be, and few things are more important than making sure your family and friends know what you’d like to happen to your organs if the worst should happen. There is still a staggering discrepancy between the number of people requiring organs and the number of people who wish to donate organs after their death, and the best way to address this problem is through a national conversation; a heart to heart about organ donation.

“There are taboos about death and many are left confused and unaware of their loved ones’ wishes after they die so making a decision about organ donation can be tremendously difficult. This resolution calls on all members to make their intentions on organ donation known to their loved ones, taking away the burden of deciding whether or not to donate organs and allowing family to honour decisions.waiting_banner

“No one wants to think about such tragic events but having these conversations and making your wishes known is key; ultimately we want to end the reluctance to talk about organ donation and help to make it a normal part of end of life care that people will expect to be asked about donation and expect to know their family members’ wishes. To agree to donate organs or tissue is a unique act of kindness, made all the more special by the fact that donations often take place at a time of great loss. The WI campaign will celebrate this and get people across the nation talking about their own organ donation decisions.”

Sally Johnson, Director of NHS Organ Donation and Transplantation who spoke for the resolution at the meeting, said: 

“It’s wonderful that the WI has made raising awareness about organ donation their new campaign. The more people talk about organ donation, the more a normal part of society it will become. And with three people dying every day in need of an organ, we need to do all we can to increase the number of organs available.

“The WI will provide the inspirational leadership we need at a local level across the UK to encourage people to talk to their families and friends about organ donation so that no family is left to guess what their loved one wanted. This campaign will make a real difference to the thousands of people and their families who are waiting for the lifesaving gift of an organ.”

If you would like further information or to arrange an interview, please contact Charlotte Fiander on or 020 7371 9300 ex. 209 / 07803 086115

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