MORE than 120 people in Sussex have died while waiting for a transplant over the past ten years.

NHS Blood and Transplant (NHSBT) has revealed the tragic toll to mark Organ Donation Week and is urging people to tell their families they want to become donors.

Hundreds of life-saving transplants are being missed every year because families did not know what their relative wanted.

The reluctance to talk about the issue is contributing to a deadly shortage of organs.

In Sussex there are currently 148 people waiting for a transplant and NHSBT says they are only likely to receive the life-changing call if people make sure their families know they want to be a donor.

NHSBT assistant director of organ donation and transplant Anthony Clarkson said: “It’s a tragedy that people are dying unnecessarily every year in Sussex waiting for transplants.

“We know that if everyone who supported donation talked about it and agreed to donate, most of those lives would be saved.

“This Organ Donation Week, tell your family you want to save lives.

“A few words now can make an extraordinary difference. It will also make things much easier for your family to make the right decision.

“If you want to save lives, don’t leave it too late to talk to your family.

“In Sussex there are more than 707,000 people on the NHS Organ Donor Register.

“However if you want to be a donor, your family’s support is still needed for donation to go ahead.

“If you are unsure about donation, please ask yourselves as a family – what would you do if one of you needed a transplant?

“Would you accept a life- saving organ?

“If you’d take an organ, shouldn’t you be prepared to donate?”

NHS Blood and Transplant surveys show more than 80 per cent of people support organ donation but only around 49 per cent have ever talked about it.

Research shows women are 30 per cent more likely to start a conversation about organ donation than men.

Families who agree to donate say it helps with their grief and that they feel enormous sense of pride at knowing their relative gave others the chance of a new beginning.

This includes the family of teenager Connor Saunders from Woodingdean who died just over five years ago.

The 19-year-old went on to save the lives of five people after his organs were donated when his relatives gave their consent to do so.