NHS: More lives being saved from transplants - but waiting list continues to grow

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More people’s lives are being saved by NHS transplants - but the waiting list far outstrips the number of new donors.

New figures published today (12 July) by NHS Blood and Transplant reveal a five per cent increase in the number of patients whose lives were saved or improved through an organ transplant in the UK in 2022/23.

However, the number of people on the waiting list for a transplant is significantly higher than the number of patients registering as a donor.

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The annual Organ and Tissue Donation and Transplantation Activity Report shows that 4,532 patients received donated organs from 2,386 donors – living and deceased – in the UK last year. The number of transplants being done with deceased patients throughout the NHS has also returned to pre-Covid levels.

Most of these transplants were for kidneys, with more than 2,300 kidney transplants being carried out last year. But 5,655 people are still on the waiting list for one, with a total of 6,959 awaiting NHS transplants.

Anthony Clarkson, director of organ donation and transplantation at NHS Blood and Transplant, said: “Over 50,000 people are alive in the UK today thanks to the life-saving gift of organ donation. But this wouldn’t be possible without the generosity of our incredible donors and their families who have given their support for donation at what is often the most difficult of times.

“We know that most people support organ donation in principle, and we have seen a steady increase in the number of people confirming their support for organ donation via the NHS Organ Donor Register.

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“However, we still need families to support their loved one’s decision and agree to donation when approached, which we know is most likely when they know that’s what they wanted. With only one per cent of people dying in circumstances where organ donation is possible, every donor is precious and has the potential to save up to nine lives.

“We urge everyone who supports organ donation to confirm their decision on the NHS Organ Donor Register. It is a simple action which only takes two minutes; but can ultimately save lives.”

From 2021/22 to 2022/23, the number of deceased organ donors increased from 1,397 to 1,429, up 2.2 per cent - while the waiting list for a transplant increased by 11 per cent to 6,959.

Click here for more information and to register to become an organ donor.

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