Medical Director Bulletin

Monthly communication from the ODT Medical Director

The Medical Director Bulletin is currently on hold.

Instead we are sharing regular updates about our work during the coronavirus pandemic.

March 2020

Message from Professor John Forsythe

Professor John Forsythe gives a presentation

Dear All,

I have asked Olive McGowan, Assistant Director, Education and Governance to give an update on a very important subject.

I am grateful to Olive and many other colleagues who are trying to make an impact on this aspect of donation. We have come to a time when actions are needed, even if we are not certain that they will make a difference since any previous attempts to bring about change had, largely, been unsuccessful.


Yours sincerely,


Professor John Forsythe

Associate Medical Director of OTDT

Length of the Donation Process

We know that the length of the donation process is increasing, and we also know that this impacts on everyone in the pathway; donor families, donor hospitals due to daytime retrieval activity, transplant centres due to overnight transplant activity and recipients who may be delayed receiving their transplant. Whilst there is a good theory for some of the reasons for the delays, such as changes in allocation schemes, these clearly need to be balanced to ensure sustainability of organ donation and transplantation.

As has been mentioned, we have made a number of changes over the past 12-18 months however they have unfortunately not had the impact we had hoped in terms of reducing the length of pathway. A such it was agreed that we need to look again and a meeting was held at the end of January. Whilst ensuring all the key stakeholders were present there was a conscious decision to keep this group small to enable key decisions and actions to be agreed; the focus was on solutions rather than looking at the problems.

A number of key actions were highlighted which include ensuring key data sets are transmitted at point of offer, which includes electronic images such as chest x-rays to expedite cardio-thoracic offer, the use of a ‘rapid retrieval’ in very specific cases and the review of offering criteria (as it is known that a significant number of organs are offered that are never accepted).  We will also be specifically reviewing offering of certain organ groups that lead to frequent delays

We acknowledge that there is no quick fix or single answer. However, everyone is working together with the aim to reduce the length of the pathway whilst still ensuring that organ donation and transplantation is safe and our patients and donor families receive the best care.

Many thanks

Olive McGowan

Assistant Director Education & Governance

NHS Blood and Transplant

Help us dispel misinformation on social media

False information regarding organ donation and the law change has been spreading on social media and via WhatsApp messages for some time. As we grow closer to spring 2020 when the law will change in England, we are asking for your help to dispel misinformation on social media, in private messaging platforms and within your communities.

The types of misinformation we have seen has varied from false deadlines for opting out of organ donation to the Government taking control of people’s organs.

As you know, adults covered by the legislation (once it comes into effect) will still have a choice about whether or not they want to be an organ donor and families will still be consulted if organ donation is possible.

Below are three examples of text which we are encouraging you to copy and paste as posts on your social media accounts or within WhatsApp groups with your family, friends and local communities. The hyperlinks lead to pages on the NHS Organ Donation website where people can find the right information for them and most importantly, get the facts.

Suggested texts to share:

  • Have questions about the upcoming organ donation law change in England? Find out more about what's changing and your choices:
  • Misinformation about the change in law around organ donation is circulating online. An opt out system is coming into place in England, but not until spring 2020. Organ donation remains a choice and families will still be involved.Get the facts:
  • Discover the truth behind some common misconceptions about organ donation after death and hear from the experts. Your organ donation decision is important, whatever it may be. Don't be swayed by misinformation. Get the facts:

It is our job to ensure that people have access to the facts to help them make an informed decision. By sharing these messages, you will be directing people to our pages which have accurate information.

If you discover information that you believe to be false, you should also notify our Press Office:

Thank you for your support.

Anthony Clarkson, Director of Organ Donation and Transplantation

Andrea Ttofa, Head of Organ Donation Marketing

Please note: The latest International data on organ donation and transplantation is available in slide form. These slides may be useful for any upcoming presentations.

Update from Katie Morley, Lead Nurse Recipient Coordinator, NHS Blood and Transplant 

Katie Morley

Congratulations to everyone who presented at the British Transplant Society Congress in Belfast. There was a great breadth of topics discussed and it was wonderful to have such excitement with the sharing of ideas for moving forward and future collaborative working.

This month for me has been focused on renal transplant. I was fortunate to be invited to the Renal Transplant Service Transformation Program held in Leeds. It was a prime opportunity to meet stakeholders and hear the experiences of staff and service users. The room was full of innovative ways to deliver a better, more cohesive service for everyone across the country. I am looking forward to seeing this project develop.

Well done to everyone who has been shortlisted for the Patient Experience Network Award. The winners shall be announced later this month in Birmingham. This is another great opportunity to showcase the efforts and creative ways in which people have gone to deliver a gold standard service within transplantation.

Law change enquiries

Enquiries from members of the public should be forwarded to or to our dedicated enquiry line 0300 123 23 23.

Press or media queries or people wanting to support the campaign or share their story, should be directed to the press office:

Enquiries from charities, political figures (or organisations) and governments should be sent to (mailbox monitored 09:00-17:00, Mon-Fri).

Meetings and events

Welcome to ESOT Transplant Live: Through education, we inspire, connect and innovate the transplant community globally. Various interesting and educational online courses in one place. Sign up to participate and experience the inspiring lectures and case studies led by leading professors.

To access all facilities of this learning environment, you need to have a user account. Registered users can log in directly with their user account. Unregistered users can create an account. Follow this link for further information: