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Organ donation numbers up but 'revolution' in attitude still needed

More people are donating their organs than ever, health officials have said.

The last financial year was a “record year” for organ donation and transplantation in the UK, according to NHS Blood and Transplant.

In 2013-14 there were 4,655 transplants carried out across the UK − a 10% rise on the previous year, a spokeswoman for the special health authority said.

“Despite year-on-year increases in activity, the UK can and must do more to save and improve lives through organ donation and transplantation”

Sally Johnson

New figures, published by NHS Blood and Transplant to mark National Transplant Week, show that almost one in four of the transplants were organs from “living donors”.

These people donate a kidney or part of their livers to people in need, while the remainder of organ donations came after a death.

While experts welcomed the rise, they said that three people still die every day in the UK while waiting for an organ donation.

The NHS Blood and Transplant spokeswoman said there needed to be a “revolution” in societal attitudes towards donation so more lives can be saved.

She said that the proportion of families who agree to organ donation after the death of a family member remains “stubbornly low”.

During 2013-14, more than four in 10 families approached about organ donation said no to donating a loved one’s organs, she said.

She added that people who think they would like to donate organs in event of their death should let their loved ones know their feelings just in case tragedy strikes.

Sally Johnson, NHS Blood and Transplant director of organ donation and transplantation, said: “We are truly grateful to the families of the 1,320 deceased donors and to each of the 1,146 living donors who made transplants possible last year.

NHS Blood and Transplant

Sally Johnson

“Their donations ensured that for the eighth year in succession, the number of people benefiting from an organ transplant increased,” she said.

“However, we cannot be complacent. Despite year-on-year increases in activity, the UK can and must do more to save and improve lives through organ donation and transplantation,” she added.

“Family refusal is our biggest problem and it’s sad we lag so far behind some other countries in terms of consent/authorisation rates to donation,” said Ms Johnson.

As reported yesterday by Nursing Times, the organisation has launched a campaign calling on potential organ donors to “spell out” their wishes to relatives in order to boost the number of transplants that are able to take place.

  • People can sign up to the Organ Donor Register by visiting: www.organdonation.nhs.uk or by calling 03001232323.

 

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