News ID: 122803
Published: 0258 GMT July 20, 2015

UK organ donation crisis

UK organ donation crisis

A crisis in organ donation is threatening the lives of hundreds of people who desperately need transplants in the UK, the NHS has warned.

For the first time in a decade, the number of deceased organ donors has dropped because of advances in medical care are saving more lives and family members are refusing to give consent.  Just 58 percent allowed transplants to go ahead last year despite the wishes of their loved ones, The Telegraph reported.

There are also concerns that the number of useable organs is dropping because donors are older and less fit. A quarter of organs are now taken from obese patients compared with one in eight a decade ago while 33 percent of donors are now 60 or older, compared with just 17 percent in 2005.

Last year 429 patients died while on the active waiting list for an organ transplant, 38 of whom were waiting for heart transplants.

New figures showed there were 182 heart transplants carried out in the UK last year, a drop of 12 percent and the number of people desperately waiting for a new heart has more than doubled in just five years.

The British Heart Foundation is calling for an ‘Opt-Out’ system to be implemented so that donation is mandatory unless patients ask to be removed from the registry. Wales is due to implement such a scheme in December and the BHF says England should follow suit.

"Tragically, these figures show that the number of available organs is outstripped by the number of heart patients waiting for a lifeline," said Simon Gillespie, Chief Executive at the British Heart Foundation.

"For many critically ill heart patients a transplant can offer the best chance of long term survival but there is a desperate shortage of registered donors.

"That’s why the BHF support the introduction of a ‘soft opt out’ system across the UK where it’s assumed that someone is happy to donate unless they, or their family, say otherwise.

"From December, Wales will implement the opt-out system and we hope the rest of the UK will follow Wales’ trailblazing lead."

New statistics released today in the annual Organ Donation and Transplantation Activity Report shows the number of transplants has decreased from 4,655 last year to 4,431 in 2014/15. This is a five-percent decrease on last year and means that 224 fewer people received an organ transplant.

At the end of March 2015, there were 6,943 patients on the transplant waiting list with a further 3,375 temporarily suspended from the list, because they were too ill to survive the operation.

The NHS Blood and Transplant service is calling for everyone in the UK to discuss organ donation with their family so that they are aware of their wishes.



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