Half a million organ donor registration forms are being mailed to doctors' surgeries throughout the UK this week - in response to public demand.

Research has shown that people expect to be able to pick up an organ donor registration leaflet at their doctors' reception area - but often find they are out of stock.

The massive mail drop to more than 10,500 practices will ensure every practice in the UK has copies of the life-saving leaflet available. A leaflet dispenser and poster encouraging people to join the NHS Organ Donor Register is being sent with the distinctive blue and red registration leaflets.

Penny Hallett, Director of Communications at NHS UK Transplant, the special health authority responsible for organ donation services in the UK explained: "While 90% of the public say they support organ donation, only 11.6 million people - 19% of the UK population - have registered their wish to help others after their death.

"Our research shows that while people are willing to register as donors many don't know where to get a registration form. We often get letters from people saying they had hoped to pick up a form when they visited their GP, only to find they were out of stock.

"Doctors already play a huge role in encouraging organ donation. Since the register was launched, 3.2 million people have said "yes" to helping others after their death by completing the organ donor section on the form they fill in when they register with a new doctor.

"We want to encourage practice staff to have the leaflets available for patients. All the material is supplied free and when stocks run low practice staff can order extra leaflets and other promotional items direct from the NHS Organ Donor Line."

Nearly 6,000 people in the UK are waiting for an organ transplant but the critical shortage of donated organs means that less than 3,000 transplants are carried out each year. Last year alone, 443 people died while waiting for an organ and many others lose their lives before they even get on the transplant list.

You can find out more about organ donation by contacting the Organ Donor Line on 0845 60 60 400 or visiting uktransplant

For further information, contact the UK Transplant press office on 0117 975 7475 or 0117 975 7477.

Notes to editor:

-- Among the ways to join the NHS Organ Donor Register, to pledge to help save others after your death, are:

-filling in the organ donor section when you register with a GP

-using the tick box on your driving licence application

-using the tick box when you apply for a Boots Advantage card

-calling the Organ Donor Line on 0845 60 60 400

-and joining online at UK Transplant's website

-- More than 11.6 million people have joined the NHS Organ Donor Register. The Government has pledged to increase the number to 16 million by 2010

-- You are more likely to need a transplant than to become a donor

-- UK Transplant is responsible for maintaining the NHS Organ Donor Register and providing a 24-hour service for the matching and allocation of donated organs

-- Transplants save and transform lives and bereaved families gain comfort knowing that their loss has helped someone else to live

uktransplant

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