“The ultimate gift” – Organ Donation Week 2021

Every day in the face of devastating tragedies, GNAAS fights to keep families and friends together.  Sometimes however, the level of injury or illness is too much. We can’t save everybody, but we never give up on anybody.

The Great North Air Ambulance Service (GNAAS) has teamed up with NHS Blood and Transplant in support of the ‘Leave them Certain’ campaign for Organ Donation Week 2021.

The campaign which runs this week aims to encourage people to discuss their wishes around organ donation with family members in the event of their death.

It comes after NHS Blood and Transplant statistics showed that hundreds of opportunities for transplants are missed because families are not sure what to do.

Holly Taylor interviewed GNAAS’ director of operations, Andy Mawson, to find out more about the interventions their critical care team can do on scene to ensure that although sadly someone may die, their organs remain healthy and able to save someone else.

Andy, what role can GNAAS play in the organ donation process?

Through our advanced and aggressive resuscitation and on scene care, we can preserve the viability of organs in the event of a patient dying.

It is not just about that though; we also play a big part in raising awareness about organ donation which is why we’ve teamed up with the NHS Blood and Transplant for Organ Donation Week.

Is the speed with which you can get a patient to hospital beneficial for the recipient?

I think it is the speed that we can get to the patient in the first instance, rather than getting them to hospital that’s more important. The various parameters in place like life support, blood and plasma is more important than speed.

What interventions can you put in place on scene to protect organs of a patient?

While on scene, we can protect the viability of organs by putting a patient under anaesthetic, giving them a blood transfusion as well as resuscitation.

What would you say to encourage someone to become an organ donor?

We never give up on anybody on scene and it is the hospital that ultimately make final decisions about whether it is preserving life or preserving organs.

If there is even the slightest chance a person may survive then we won’t give up – no matter how slim those chances. If, however, we can’t save someone I think that being a donor is a huge privilege in the fact that you can go on to save many lives yourself.

Do you think families should have conversations with one another about their wishes before they die?

Definitely, by having that conversation while loved ones are still alive it can really take the stress away slightly from unexpected tragedy.

Leave them certain

Talk to your loved ones

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