Only half of North Devon’s population and one in three people in Torridge have signed up to the organ donation register.

The figures have been released by NHS Blood and Transplant (NHSBT) to mark Organ Donation Week this week.

They show that around five people in Torridge and North Devon are currently on the waiting list for a new organ.

And now NHSBT has issued an urgent appeal for families to talk about organ donation and be aware of their loved-ones wishes.

NHSBT says the failure of prospective donors to sign the register or inform their families of their wishes is posing an obstacle to life-saving transplants going ahead.

This ‘fatal complacency’ means that a family may refuse to give their consent even if their loved one was happy for their organs to be used.

Only 35 per cent of people in Torridge and 50 per cent of people in North Devon had signed up as a donor as of May this year, based on the latest population estimates.

Anthony Clarkson, interim director of organ donation and transplantation for NHSBT, said: “It’s tragic that so many people from Devon have died waiting for a transplant – what is shocking is that many of those lives could have been saved, had more families agreed to donate organs.

“People are dying every day because some families are not talking about donation.

“We need more families in Devon to say yes to organ donation, so that more lives can be saved.”

Earlier this year, a North Devon father’s decision to allow his nine-year-old daughter’s organs to be used to save the lives of others was heard by Parliament as a change in the law on organ donation moves forward.

Keira Ball died in an accident on the North Devon Link Road, and her family agreed to donate her kidneys, heart, liver and pancreas to save the lives of four people.

This sparked the move forward on proposals for Max’s Law, inspired by 10-year-old Max Johnson, who received Keira’s heart.

The move was also welcomed by the family of Katie Gammon, the Barnstaple teenager who dedicated the final years of her life to raise awareness of organ donation.

Across Devon, approximately 71 per cent of people have signed up to become an organ donor.

Thirty people have died in the county while on the organ transplant list in the last five years, and there are currently 90 people waiting for an organ.

A total of 66 people in Devon received transplants last year.

Sign up to become an organ donor by clicking here.