Angela Richardson, MP for Guildford, visited Royal Surrey NHS Foundation Trust on Thursday to unveil a new wall display outside the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) and raise awareness of organ donation.
The display, commissioned by the Trust’s Organ Donation Committee (donated by the Organ Donation Trust), shows the high-tech equipment used to treat ICU patients. It aims to help and reassure patients’ loved ones by giving them a better understanding of what each machine does.
Another initiative to make ICU equipment less daunting has been inspired by a former patient, and as a result, six kidney filter machines are now named after popular super heroes.
Comics enthusiast Mark Green, who inspired the super heroes theme, spent 97 days in hospital after becoming seriously ill with Covid-19 in January 2021. During his hospital stay he was placed in an induced coma in ICU.
Praising the display and the super hero nameplates, Mark said: “I’ll be forever grateful to Royal Surrey ICU staff for saving my life and I’m thrilled to be invited back for the unveiling of this display.
“The care that I received in ICU and the compassion shown to my family will never be forgotten. These pieces of artwork add such a nice, reassuring and thoughtful touch to the unit and will hopefully bring a little light at a difficult time for families facing a similar situation to mine.”
Angela’s visit took place as part of the Trust’s celebration of Organ Donation Week (26 September to 2 October) and during her tour the local MP visited ICU and Theatres. She was welcomed by Chief Executive Louise Stead and chatted to Justin Kirk-Bayley, Consultant Intensivist and Clinical Lead for Organ Donation about the process of organ donation.
Angela said: “Organ Donation Week is a really important awareness event that helps highlight the shortage of organ and tissue donors across the country and the importance of people registering their decision. It’s crucial that an individual’s choice is also shared with loved ones, so that their wishes are known in the tragic situation of planning for end-of-life care.”
Organ donation can only happen when someone is dying or has died in Intensive Care on a ventilator, so the number of people considered suitable for organ donation is limited. Only about 0.01% of the population die in circumstances where they can donate their organs so it is a very rare, but very important, gift.
In the last financial year, two patients at Royal Surrey donated their organs after their death, which resulted in five people receiving life-saving transplants.
Katie Law, Specialist Nurse, Organ Donation, said: "Organ and tissue transplants would not be possible without the generosity of those who choose to give life to others through organ and tissue donation. It is a heroic thing to do and a fantastic legacy to leave.
“When I talk to families who know that their loved one wanted to donate, they have that reassurance and comfort that they are doing the right thing. This is what Organ Donation Week is about – opening up the conversation and making people aware of the importance of having that discussion and sharing our organ and tissue donation decision."
A shortage of organ donors led to a change in legislation in England in 2020 from an opt-in to an opt-out system. Organ donation law now states that all adults in England are considered to have agreed to be an organ donor when they die unless they have recorded a decision not to donate or they are in a group that is excluded. Decisions can be registered on the NHS Organ Donor Register website.
Tissue donation can also be considered after death and this is not limited to patients who have died on a ventilator in Intensive Care. Donated tissue dramatically improves lives. This could include tissue such as a corneal donation that might save someone's sight.
Find out more information on the NHS Blood and Transplant website.