TWENTY-FOUR people in Dorset have died due to a shortage of organ donations in the past four years, new NHS Blood and Transport figures have revealed.

There are 120 people across the county waiting for a transplant and families are being encouraged to discuss organ donations with their loved ones as well as join the NHS Organ Donor Register.

Today marks the launch of National Transplant Week.

While 95 per cent of families agree to donation if a loved one has discussed their wishes and is registered on the Organ Donor Register, this figure drops to only 46 per cent when donation wishes have not been discussed.

As well as signing up to the register, it is vital people let those closest to them known that they want to be an organ donor.

Among those backing National Transplant Week are 20-year-old Kate Hennessey from Wimborne and her mother Gail Stewart.

Kate has had a second chance at life thanks to a lung transplant and is planning on attending a number of festivals this summer.

Kate and Gail are now urging families to start discussing organ donation.

They say it is important to sign up to the register and ensure your loved ones know your wishes in the event of a sudden accident.

Gail said: “It is usually down to the immediate family to make the final decision when someone is placed on a life-support machine.

"In the end there is no point in two people dying when one can live.”

Kate told the Daily Echo: “I will never be able to put into words how much I appreciate the donor for what they did; a total stranger gave me life.”

Sally Johnson, director of organ donation and transplantation for NHS Blood and Transplant, said: “Last year 37 people in Dorset benefitted from life-saving transplants.

"We need a transformation in donor and family consent to organ donation because the UK’s family refusal rate remains one of the highest in Europe.”

To sign up for the NHS Organ Donor Register visit, phone 0300 123 2323 or text DONATE to 62323