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  • Health Minister David Lammy launches National Transplant Week

Health Minister David Lammy with the help of the RAF's elite fighter team The Red Arrows launched this year's National Transplant Awareness Week by unveiling a billboard encouraging the public to register to become organ donors.

The Red Arrows feature on 150 billboards around the country funded by The National Kidney Research Fund in support of Transplants in Mind (TIME), which organises the awareness week between 7-14 July.

Marking the start of National Transplant Week, Health Minister David Lammy said:

"In the UK about 3000 organs are transplanted each year but currently 6000 people are awaiting transplants. Many thousands more, though their lives may not at present be threatened, could benefit from a transplant if more organs were available.

"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."

Currently in excess of 6,000 people are waiting for an organ transplant within the United Kingdom. However only a small percentage will be fortunate to receive an organ, whilst hundreds die before an organ becomes available. The Minister was accompanied by James Hipwell, a patient who has just received a life-saving kidney from his own brother after being on dialysis for two years.

9.2 million people in the UK, around 16 per cent of the population, are on the NHS Organ Donor Register. The Secretary of State for Health Alan Milburn last year set a target of doubling the numbers on the register to 16 million by 2010.

TIME is organising hundreds of local events around the country to highlight the need for organ and tissue donation. Sue Johnstone from TIME says: "Organ donation is an emotive and on-going issue which is brought to the fore each year through National Transplant Week. 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 said: "There is a serious 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."

You can register your wishes to be an organ donor by calling 0845 60 60 400, or online at http://www.nhs.uk/organdonor or by completing and posting the organ donation leaflet.

Notes to Editors:

1. Founded in 1961, The National Kidney Research Fund is the leading UK charity funding research that focuses on the prevention, treatment and management of kidney disease as well as improving patient care.

2. The National Kidney Research Fund does not conduct research directly but funds others to undertake this essential work on their behalf.

3. The Fund supports kidney patients directly, with grants and information to help them to cope better with kidney disease. It supports hospital renal units in raising funds for new facilities and expensive equipment.

4. Kidney disease affects all age groups. In the UK today, over 180,000 people are undergoing treatment for kidney disease and as of 31st May 2002 there are 4,923 patients awaiting a transplant.

5. Further information on The National Kidney Research Fund can be obtained by visiting their website; www.nkrf.org.uk

6. TIME, Transplants in Mind, comprises 30 charities, all with an interest in promoting organ donation and tissue transplantation, some with an interest in research.

7. TIME operates through a Council of Members, is run by an elected Executive and does not campaign for one system of organ donation over another.

8. TIME's remit is to encourage as much publicity and debate as possible about the benefits of organ donation and transplantation in order for people to make their own, informed decision as to whether or not they wish to become an organ donor.

9. One of TIME's principal tasks is National Transplant Week, which it has organised for the past twelve years. The Department of Health funds TIME through the Sectio

SOURCE Department of Health



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