SEVENTY-THREE people from Sussex have died in the last five years waiting for an organ transplant.

The figure was revealed as health bosses urged people to do their bit to help save a life.

There are currently 207 people across the county on the organ donor waiting list and hoping to receive the call that could change their lives.

NHS Blood and Transplant (NHSBT) NHS Trust hopes the figures will encourage more people to sign up to the register and make sure they tell their family about it.

The decision to donate a loved one’s organs falls to the next of kin and, if the subject has been discussed before, the family will not have the burden of having to guess what a person would have wanted.

Research has shown families are more likely to support a decision to donate if they already know their loved ones wishes.

Waiting for a donor is Dr Simon Howell, 39, of Burgess Hill. He suffers from kidney failure and is in urgent need of a transplant.

The father-of-two, a specialist in histopathology, has been on the waiting list since 2010.

He and his wife Anita are trying to make life as normal as possible for their daughter Sarah, seven, and one-year-old son James.

On a good day Dr Howell is able to take his daughter to school or go to the playground with his son, but he struggles with his energy.

He said: “It is basically a case of taking one day at a time. Sometimes it can be even less than that.

“I can wake up not feeling too bad and then things can deteriorate. I try to make sure I spend the good hours with the children as time is precious.”

Dr Howell had health problems as a child and tests revealed his kidneys were small.

When he grew up medics told him he would need a transplant.

Although he was able to build a career and get married, Dr Howell’s health deteriorated to the point when his kidneys began to fail.

His mother turned out to be a good match and he had a transplant in 2005.

However after a few months, the new kidney also started to fail.

Dr Howell was forced to retire in 2009 and went back on the waiting list as nobody else in his family was a match.

Dr Howell is now on a form of dialysis which involves using a special fluid that goes into his abdomen via a permanent tube.

He has to drain away two litres of fluid four times a day and fill it up with more solution.

He said: “Obviously there is always hope a match will be found and this is why it is so important that people sign up and let their families know.

“Just one donor has the potential to transform the lives of so many.”

The NHSBT’s Sally Johnson, said: “To help more people we need everyone to tell those closest to them that they want to donate their organs.”

Last year, 78 people in Sussex had an organ transplant and 565,396 people are currently signed up to the register.

To join the register, go to organ or call 0300 123 23 23.