This post is related to my motivation for raising a petition with the UK Government – the petition can be found here.
The issue of organ donation is of vital importance. With 7,000 people currently waiting for a donation and the number of donors falling, we should be doing everything possible to encourage donations. Despite five years of progress and a 50% increase in the number of deceased organ donors since 2008, the UK still faces a shortage of donated organs and people waiting for a transplant are still dying due to lack of available donors – the NHS put this number at about 1,000 people per year, around 1 in 7 of the people waiting for a donation.
When donors make a living donation many employers see this as an employee optionally making themselves ill, and as such the individual is required to take any time off from their holiday entitlement or take time off unpaid. This seems fundamentally wrong for the danger they are putting themselves in to save the life of another person, someone they might not even know.
Living donor transplantation is an established practice in the UK and represents currently 25% of overall organ transplant activity. However with employees getting little support it is no wonder that the actual number of living donations has been decreasing over the last two years.
Having seen first hand both the impact a bone marrow donation can have on the recipient, going from being extremely ill to being healthier and happier than they were in a long time. I have also seen the pressures an anonymous donor gets from his employer while giving bone marrow and I feel disgusted that the active living anonymous donor can be treated so poorly. As a minimum the employee should be treated equally as if the employee had become ill themselves, as such they should be entitled to statutory sick pay and an employee should be required to provide them with their standard sickness benefits. Ideally an employer should provide any other support they need to be able to give their donation, such as time and flexibility for blood tests etc.
Anyone who is brave enough to step up and volunteer to save the life of a complete stranger and putting their own lives at risk should be given all the support they need, not penalised for doing so.