FAMILIES in Oxfordshire are being urged to talk about organ donation as figures reveal 27 people have died in the county in the last five years while waiting for a transplant.

New data published by NHS Blood and Transplant shows last year 1,580 people in the UK donated their organs after they died. In Oxfordshire, 19 people from the county gave the gift of life by donating their organs after death and there was a total of 31 such donors at the John Radcliffe Hospital.

It puts the Oxford hospital in the top 10 in the UK for supporting transplant organ donation.

The national deceased organ donor figures, which cover the 12 months to May, 2020, were on course to surpass the previous year’s total but this was curtailed by the coronavirus pandemic hitting the UK in March, which forced delays to all but the most urgent transplants.

ALSO READ: Calls to lock park because of drug use

Anthony Clarkson, director of organ donation and transplantation at NHS Blood and Transplant, said:“It is disappointing but inevitable that donation and transplantation has been impacted by the worldwide pandemic. What is incredible though is that throughout this crisis, we have continued to see such strong support for organ donation and the most urgent transplants have still gone ahead and saved the lives of desperately ill adults and children.”

The high number of organ donors last year allowed 3,760 patients to have the organ transplant they needed, including 36 people in Oxfordshire.

Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (OUH), which runs the John Radcliffe and the Oxford Transplant Centre based at the Churchill Hospital , carried out 274 transplants in 2019/20.

Peter Friend, director of the Oxford Transplant Centre, said: “Transplantation continues to make big strides in Oxford, both in terms of the number of patients that we are able to treat and the successful outcome of those transplants.

ALSO READ: Protesters take to river over Thames Water dumping raw sewage 1,300 times

“We are always aware that none of this would be possible without the generosity and support of donors and the families of donors.

“We are fortunate in Oxford in having world-class clinical facilities and world-class science, which enable innovation and the very latest and best treatments for our patients.”

Mr Clarkson said NHS Blood and Transplant was ‘incredibly grateful’ for the work done by OUH and all the ‘courageous’ donors and their families the trust has worked with.

He added: “Organ donation is the only hope for many desperately ill people. We know many families feel a sense of pride and comfort from their decision to let their relative’s final act to be saving lives through organ donation.”

ALSO READ: Police break up group of 50 teenagers in town park

The recovery of donation and transplantation is now well under way and the majority of transplant units such as the one in Oxford have reopened.

But there remain more than 6,000 people in need of a transplant in the UK, with 43 of these patients living in Oxfordshire.

In the last five years, 27 people in the county died before they received the organ they desperately needed. England moved to an opt out system, bringing in Max and Keira’s law, on May 20 and it is hoped public support for organ donation will continue to improve.

Mr Clarkson said: “We are, along with our fantastic NHS colleagues, focused on the continued recovery of this immensely important work, which brings comfort to grieving families and gives people another chance at life.

ALSO READ: Man in hospital with 'serious head injury' after town centre attack

“As we learn to live with Covid-19 and boosted by the new law and growing public support, we hope more lives than ever before can be saved. I urge everyone in Oxfordshire to make their organ donation decision and tell their family about it.”

It’s still someone’s choice whether or not they want to donate their organs.

To find out more, and to register a decision, visit NHS Organ Donor Register at organdonation.nhs.uk.

The service has urged people to make sure to tell family about their choice.