National Transplant Week – Organ transplants on the rise in UK

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This is the eight straight year where an increase in organ transplants has been experienced in England and Wales. This is based on NHS figures which is a good sign that donations have become more acceptable.

According to the NHS Blood and Transplant (NHSBT), there were 4655 transplants completed in the UK during the 2013/14 financial year. This is a 10% increase on the previous year and the first year where the number has reached 4600.

The new figures have been published by the authority to mark National Transplant Week. It indicated that 1146 of these transplants, almost 25%, were organs received from living donors, such as kidneys or parts of livers.

The balance of the patients received their organs when it was donated after death. The deceased donor transplant rate has increased to 54.9 per million people, which is an increase from 49 per million people the previous year.

The NHSBT said that although the number of people benefiting from organ transplants has increased, there are still about three people who die each day across the country because of a lack of organs. The authority said that the country needs a revolution in the attitude of society towards donation in order to save more lives. They stated that the proportion of families who are willing to agree to organ donation after a family member dies remains extremely low.

The authority said that during 2013/14, more than 40% of families who were asked about organ donation refused to donate the organs of their loved ones.

The director of organ donation and transplantation at NHSBT, Sally Johnson, said that they are truly grateful to the families of the 1320 deceased donors and to the 1146 living donors who made it possible for transplants to take place during last year. She said that their donation ensured that the number of people who benefited from a transplant increased for the eight year in succession.

She stated that the population should not become complacent, and although the year-on-year activity has increased, the country must do more to improve and save lives through organ transplantation and donation.

She added that family refusal is the biggest problem the organisation faces and that it is quite sad that the UK lags so far behind some other countries regarding consent or authorisation rates. She said that every potential donor is precious and when a family finds it difficult to agree to donation, patients who are waiting for organs may die.

The NHSBT has revealed that in excess of 20 million in the UK have made the decision to donate their organs after death by registering with the NHS Organ Donor Register. However, simply registering is not sufficient. Those who want their organs donated after death need to advise their next of kin, which will save them from having to make that decision at such a difficult time in their lives.

Image Credit: Tareq Salahuddin

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