Tuesday, July 05, 2011

Organ transplant waiting times soar in the UK

Despite a growing number of people signing up to donate their organs when they die, the donor register is failing to keep pace with the rising demand Photo: REX FEATURES

By Nick Collins, Science Correspondent The Telegraph
Waiting times for organ transplant operations have risen by as much as six months because of the burden created by our unhealthy lifestyles, according to NHS figures.

Patients requiring an organ transplant now wait an average of three years for a suitable donor to become available, according to NHS Blood and Transplant (NHSBT).

Despite a growing number of people signing up to donate their organs when they die, the donor register is failing to keep pace with the rising demand due to conditions like diabetes, liver and heart diseases.

The average waiting time for an adult donor kidney – which make up 85 per cent of all transplant operations – rose from 995 days in the five-year period between 2002-06, to 1191 days in 2005-09, the last period for which figures are available.

For children the waiting time rose from 241 days to 354 days during the same period.

Median waiting times for other organs were measured in four-year periods between 2003-09.

The average waiting time for an adult non-urgent heart rose from 109 days to 184 days; for a lung from 416 days to 511 days; and for an adult liver from 113 to 138 days.

Sally Johnson, director for organ donation and transplantation at NHSBT, said the rising number of people on the organ donor register could not meet the growing need for organs.

Some 29 per cent of the population are on the register, but only one in every 200 will be a suitable donor.

There are more than 7,500 people in Britain waiting for an organ transplant, with three dying every day.

This demand is in part due to conditions like heart disease and diabetes, which can be influenced by diet, and liver disease which is linked to obesity and alcohol intake, Ms Johnson said.

She added: "The end point for these diseases is there is nothing that can be done apart from a transplant, and that is why numbers continue to go up.

"There are a whole range of factors in society in terms of the way we live that contribute to that need and our ability to meet that need."

“You Have the Power to Donate Life – Sign-up today!
Tell Your Loved Ones of Your Decision”
United States, organdonor.gov (Select your state - top right)
United Kingdom, register at NHS Organ Donor Register
Australia, register at Australian Organ Donor Register
Your generosity can save or enhance the lives of up to fifty people with heart, kidneys, liver, lungs, pancreas and small intestine transplants (see allotransplantation). One tissue donor can help by donating skin, corneas, bone, tendon, ligaments and heart valves

Has your life been saved by an organ transplant? "Pay it forward" and help spread the word about the need for organ donation - In the U.S. another person is added to the national transplant waiting list every 11 minutes and 18 people die each day waiting for an organ or tissue transplant. Organs can save lives, corneas renew vision, and tissue may help to restore someone's ability to walk, run or move freely without pain. Life Begins with You

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