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24 September 2014
Inside Out: Surprising Stories, Familiar Places

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   Inside Out - West Midlands: Monday 4th November, 2002

ORGAN TRANSPLANTS

Anthony on the telephone

Every year nearly 3,000 organ transplants take place in the UK. These transplants save people’s lives or drastically improve them.

Inside Out met Antony Hooker, the Midlands lifesaver who makes transplants happen.

Humanity

Antony and his committed transplant coordination team organise transplants in the West Midlands.

Antony says;

"People think that my job is all about listening out for the news for some great tragedy so you can rush there and whip out somebody’s organs."

"But it’s nothing like that at all. It’s far more humane."

As Inside Out discovered, there’s definitely no waiting around ..

What the Transport Co-ordination team do

Patient identification
Antony is aware of people in need of a transplant. A potential donor who is gravely ill and being kept alive by a ventilator is identified.
Medical check
This identifies any conditions which could halt the donation.
Family consultation
This is to establish their preliminary agreement.
Brain stem tests
These establish whether their is any possible chance of recovery for the potential donor.
Blood tests
These establish whether the donor is free of hepatitis, HIV, etc.
Full consent
To enable the donation, this must be given voluntarily by the family.
Last respects
Family members spend some time with the donor.
Organ removal
This is reliant on the availability of a specialist surgical team and an intensive care bed for the recipient.
Transportation
The organs are packed in ice and taken to the recipient’s hospital where the transplant takes place.
Final care
The donor’s body is made ready to be returned to their family. Their hair is washed, men are shaved etc. Hand prints and hair locks are taken if requested by the family.

Through every stage outlined above, Antony is caring for the family and respecting their wishes.

Sensitivity

Antony’s difficult job involves asking families in their depths of grief to consider organ donation.

"Talking with the families is really about making sure that they realise that a miracle’s not going to happen."

"That can be really quite brutal."

"I’m always amazed by people’s generosity at this time."

Sarah's story

One couple who have experienced Antony’s work is Kath and Mike Lewis.

They recently tragically lost their 21 year old daughter Sarah.

Sarah’s organs were used to help five people, including an eight month old baby.

Kath says of the donation:

"Sarah’s life was important even in her death really."

"It’s been a wonderful comfort to us and I’m sure it would be to other people."

"I think it’s so silly that so many people die and organs are not donated."

Become a donor

More than half the families asked to go ahead with an organ donation refuse.

Organs placed in ice for transportation
Organs are placed in ice for safe transportation

People wishing to become donors should tell relatives about their wishes, as relatives ultimately give the go-ahead.

They may be more likely to agree if they know it is their loved one's wish.

Donor cards are available from doctors surgeries and health centres.

You can also register on the National Donor Register online.

As Kath Lewis says, "It’s the gift of life that you’re giving to other people."

For Antony, organising these precious gifts of life is a job that he will continue to do with the intense, passionate dedication witnessed by Inside Out.

 

See also ...

On the rest of the web
Birmingham Children's Hospital
NHS Organ Donation
Join the donor register

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