As more than 4,600 people, including 39 patients in Cornwall, wait for a kidney transplant, and with this figure expected to rise*, NHS Blood and Transplant is calling on everyone in Cornwall to share their organ donation decision and also take a moment to consider living kidney donation this World Kidney Day (Thursday 10 March 2022).
Kidney transplants have been the hardest hit area of organ transplantation throughout the pandemic, with deceased donor transplants down 22% and living donor transplants down 60% - an overall drop in kidney transplants of 32% in 2020/21, compared to 2019/2020**.
This means around 1,100 fewer patients received a kidney transplant in 2020/21, compared to the year before. In living donor transplantation, 422 patients benefitted instead of the usual 1,000 and there were 500 fewer deceased donor transplants**.
Sadly, the thousands of people waiting for a kidney transplant may end up waiting longer for a deceased or living kidney donor as they’ve been unable to have a transplant for most of the pandemic and the waiting list has increased.
Living donor transplantation opens up opportunities for patients wating for a kidney transplant by minimising the time people need to rely on dialysis and by offering patients who wait the longest i.e. those who are most difficult to match, are particularly ‘sensitised’ (which means they have higher levels of antibodies which could cause their body to reject a transplanted organ) or are from a Black, Asian or minority ethnic background, the chance of a successful transplant.
People can donate a kidney in life to a particular individual (a relative, friend or someone they know who is in need of a transplant) or choose to donate anonymously where their kidney will either go to a high priority patient on the transplant list or create a chain of transplants via the UK living kidney sharing scheme.
Living donation is not for everyone and some people are not suitable donors, so the majority of kidney patients will still be saved by a deceased organ donor. It is more important than ever to tell your family about your organ donation decision to help those on the waiting list.
Even though the law around organ donation has now changed to an opt out system across England, Wales, and Scotland, many people are still not aware that families will still always be consulted before organ donation goes ahead.
Anthony Clarkson, Director of Organ and Tissue Donation and Transplantation, at NHS Blood and Transplant, says: “We know the pandemic is a very worrying time for kidney patients as thousands of people, including 39 patients in Cornwall, wait for a life-changing kidney transplant.
“We’re pleased that transplant activity is now recovering and we’re doing everything we can to enable as many transplants as possible to take place as quickly as possible.
“Sadly patients are facing a longer wait and more people need a kidney transplant, so it is more important than ever for people in Cornwall to share their organ donation decision with their family to help others after their death. And if anyone in Cornwall is willing to consider living kidney donation, they can find out more on our website.”
For more information, or to register your organ donation decision, please visit: www.organdonation.nhs.uk or call 0300 123 23 23. NHS app users can also use the service to record, check or update their organ donation decision. Please tell your family about your organ donation decision and leave them certain.