The Organ Donor Register – unearthing the subtle trends

Last time I told you about the overarching trends in the Donor Register; the fact its growth has flatlined, that women outnumber men, the best represented region is Scotland and most people join via the DVLA. In this post I thought I might tell you about the less obvious and harder-to-detect trends, which came to light via judicious use of pivot tables.

First off, I discovered that the numbers of people joining the register are not slowing in all regions; in 2011 it grew by 7% in Northern Ireland and in Scotland, 9%. I decided to give Tableau a go to visualise the regional changes.

In 2011, the number of men joining in four regions; East Midlands, North West, West Midlands and Yorkshire and Humber exceeded women for the first time in the register’s history. I can only wonder what is behind this male weighing. Perhaps it has something to do with the DVLA rule change last year; it could be that there are more male new drivers in these areas than female. If that is the reason, it reinforces my belief that people need a big ol’ prod to join up.

The NHSBT has been working hard to increase the number of people from ethnic minorities on the register. It seems to be having some effect; in the context of the minority of people who register their ethnicity (just 82%), between 2009 and 2011 there was a 35 per cent leap in the total number of Asian signees.

Chart: Ethnic minorities on the Organ Donor RegisterDescription: Tags: Author: charts powered by iCharts

Although there’s not a massive numerical difference between which organs people are happy to donate, people on the register are a tad less likely to want to donate all, rather than certain organs. And if people only select certain organs, eyes and small bowel are less likely to be selected.

Speaking to my case study, a friend-of-a-friend who had a liver transplant last year was fascinating. She gave me something that stats can’t – emotion depth. I spoke to her about her agonising wait on the transplant list and why she believes the UK should adopt an opt-out system like Spain’s. Here’s what she wants to say to encourage more of us to join the register…

In the last few days I’ve also spoken to the NHSBT about some of the trends I’ve spotted and also about the opportunities offered by its Facebook link-up. “NHSBT already uses social media to engage with wide audiences and people can already register to be an organ donor on NHSBT’s Facebook page. However, the new joint initiative between NHSBT and Facebook means people can log their support for organ donation on their Facebook Timeline and, if they wish, click through to NHSBT’s Facebook page to officially register.

“Over 30 million people in the UK use Facebook so obviously the partnership is an exciting new way to use the power of social media to reach a huge audience and encourage people to sign up to the register and share their wishes with their friends and family.”

Oh and you can peruse all my data here if you so wish!