UK unveils organ donor scheme



 A new strategy to achieve world class performance in living kidney donation – Living Donor Kidney Transplantation 2020 – a UK Strategy – is launched.  It sets the agenda for increasing living donor transplants, from 18 transplants per million population to 26 transplants per million population..

The aims of the strategy are to:

o        Increase living donor kidney transplant activity for adult and paediatric patients, ensuring that donor safety and welfare is consistently sustained through best clinical practice

o        Maximise patient benefit by ensuring that all suitable recipients have equal access to living donor kidney transplants and embed the “transplant first”** principle across the UK to prevent patients going onto dialysis or minimise the time patients spend on dialysis prior to transplant

o        Maximise the opportunities for suitable donors and recipients to contribute to and benefit from the shared living donor pool by ensuring that the National Living Donor Kidney Sharing Schemes (NLKDSS) are both clinically and cost effective.

Living donation plays a vital role in saving and improving lives. The number of living donor kidney transplants increased by 4 per cent in 2013/14 against the previous year. 1,114 patients received a kidney from a living donor, representing a third of all kidney transplants carried out in the UK. ****

There are currently 7,079 people in the UK waiting for an organ transplant. 5,666 (80 per cent) of those people are in need of a kidney transplant. Kidney transplants are needed to help save and improve the lives of people with kidney failure. The two most common causes of kidney failure are diabetes and hypertension. Dialysis can be used to manage kidney failure, but a kidney transplant is often the only way to transform the life of someone with kidney failure.

Living Donor Kidney Transplantation 2020 – a UK Strategy builds on the strength of the previous strategy (2010 – 2014) to continue the safe and sustainable expansion of the living donor pool. From 2000 to 2010, living donor transplant activity in the UK trebled – there were 4,199 living donor kidney transplants, 253 paired/pooled transplants and 256 non-directed altruistic donors. This was thanks to all four UK countries and the wider transplant community who helped us to achieve the main aim of the 2010-2014 strategy – to increase overall UK living donation rates to 18 transplants per million population.

Kirstine Bradbury, donated her kidney to someone she had never met when she heard about his need to a life saving kidney transplant. Kirstine said:

“My reasoning behind deciding to donate my kidney was quite simple really. I donated because I can. I hadn’t thought about living kidney donation before but I was on the Organ Donor Register, I feel that as our organs are of no use to us when we are gone, why not potentially let many other people benefit from them.

“We are born with two kidneys but can function perfectly well with one. So why not help someone have the quality of life that many on the waiting list dream of, but that us healthy people easily take for granted?

“Almost three years on, most of my scars are unnoticeable. And yes, donating an organ isn’t pain free but I have made a full recovery and my recipient is living a full and healthy life.”

Lisa Burnapp, Lead Nurse for Living Donation at NHS Blood and Transplant said: “We have seen some great successes in the living donation field but there is still a lot more to be done for us to reach a world class standard. We will need to work closely with the wider UK transplant community, UK health departments, the Human Tissue Authority and others to ensure that we can deliver our strategy successfully and improve the lives of even more patients.

“Living donation offers more patients with end stage kidney disease the possibility of a successful transplant and also adds to the overall supply of available organs for those waiting for a life changing transplant.“

Sally Johnson, Director of Organ Donation and Transplantation at NHS Blood and Transplant said: “Living donation is highly successful and friends, family and strangers can all make the decision to donate to save the life of someone in need. Living donation is very well regulated and potential donors are carefully screened before any donation to ensure it’s safe for them to undergo the operation.

“However, living donation can not help everyone in need of a transplant. Patients on the transplant waiting list rely heavily on the generosity of people donating their organs after death in order to receive a life saving organ transplant so it is still vital that people join the NHS Organ Donor Register and let their loved ones know what their decision is.”

In England, Wales and Northern Ireland the Human Tissue Act 2004, and in Scotland the Human Tissue (Scotland) Act 2006, provide the legal framework for organ and tissue donation in the UK. The Human Tissue Authority (HTA) regulates the donation by living people of solid organs and part organs.

NHS Blood and Transplant has co-ordinated the development of Living Donor Kidney Transplantation 2020 – a UK Strategy in its role as the UK Organ Donor Organisation.


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