PATIENTS in Dorset have died while waiting for organ transplants in the last two years, it has been revealed.

NHS Blood and Transplant (NHSBT) has launched a year-long campaign aimed at raising awareness of the organ donation law change which comes into place next year.

From spring 2020, all adults in England will be considered to have agreed to be an organ donor when they die unless they have recorded a decision not to donate or are in one of the excluded groups.

NHSBT revealed that there are 52 people currently waiting for a transplant in Dorset, and in the past two years, five people or fewer have died waiting.

A survey carried out by NHSBT in January found only 37 per cent of people over 16 were aware that the law around organ donation was changing. This was even lower among 16-20 year olds, of whom only 21 per cent were aware.

The campaign, developed with input from people from a range of ages and backgrounds, aims to communicate that the law is changing and the choices available, as well as encouraging people to make a decision and share it with their family.

It portrays the 'gift of organ donation', featuring a person holding a digitally created heart (or other organ) shaped balloon. As they release the balloon from their hand, another takes hold of the string.

Anthony Clarkson, director of organ donation and transplantation for NHS Blood and Transplant, said: "Organ donation is, and always will be, a precious gift. Although the law is changing it will still be the generosity of individual donors and their families who decide at the most difficult time to support organ donation, which will ensure more transplants can happen and more lives can be saved.

"While eight in ten people in England tell us they definitely want to donate or would consider donating, only just over a third of adults have told their partner or family that they want to donate their organs after they die. Regardless of the organ donation decision you make, the most important thing is to make sure your family are aware of your decision.

“We hope that by increasing awareness and understanding of organ donation, we can inspire more individuals and families to agree to donation and allow many more lives to be saved."

Once the new system is introduced across England, families will still be involved before any organ or tissue donation goes ahead.

The ‘pass it on’ campaign is being supported by charities and community groups including the British Heart Foundation, Kidney Care UK and National BAME Transplant Alliance.