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Friday, 5 July, 2002, 23:40 GMT 00:40 UK
Organ donor drive launched
The billboards are appearing around the country
The billboards are appearing around the country
The government, NHS officials and charities have urged people to seriously consider carrying organ donor cards.

Health Minister David Lammy said the lives of thousands of people could be drastically improved if more people were willing to donate their organs when they die.

Speaking at the launch of National Transplant Week, Mr Lammy also advised those with cards to inform their family and loved ones of their wishes.


The gap between the number of organs donated and the number of people waiting for a transplant is increasing

Penny Hallett, UK Transplant
National Transplant Week runs from Sunday 7 to Sunday 14 July.

Ministers hope the campaign will help to boost the number of people who carry cards.

Organ register

Health Secretary Alan Milburn last year said the government wanted to double the number of people on the NHS Organ Donor Register.

A total of 9.2m people or 16% of the population are currently on the register.

The government wants to increase that number of 16m by 2010.

Mr Lammy said: "In the UK about 3,000 organs are transplanted each year but currently 6,000 people are awaiting treatment.

"Many thousands more, though their lives may not at present be threatened, could benefit from a transplant if more organs were available."

He added: "Organ donation is often a source of comfort for a bereaved family at a traumatic time.

"That is why National Transplant Week is so important as a way of encouraging people to join the NHS Organ Donor Register, to carry the organ donor card, and most importantly, to tell their family and friends that they wish to be an organ donor when they die."

Advertising drive

The campaign is being run by Transplants in Mind. The National Kidney Research Fund is paying for 220 billboards around the UK during the week.

Sue Johnstone from Transplant in Mind said: "Encouraging the public to sign up to the NHS Organ Donor Register through this high profile billboard campaign is one major leap forward as more must be done to convince people within the UK to consider being organ donors."

Penny Hallett of UK Transplant, which overseas organ transplants, said: "There is a shortage of organs and the gap between the number of organs donated and the number of people waiting for a transplant is increasing.

"Transplants are one of the most miraculous achievements of modern medicine.

"But they depend entirely on the generosity of donors and their families who are willing to make this life-saving gift to others."

People can register to be an organ donor in the UK by telephoning 0845 60 60 400.

See also:

24 May 02 | Health
27 Feb 01 | Health
14 Feb 01 | Health
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