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Deceased organ donor numbers reach record high

More than 1,500 people across the UK donated.

Campaigners have called for more organ donors (Philip Toscano/PA)
Campaigners have called for more organ donors (Philip Toscano/PA)

The number of people who donated organs after they died has reached a record high, officials have said.

A total of 1,575 people donated organs after they died in 2017/18, the highest figure on record, according to NHS Blood and Transplant (NHSBT).

Every year around 5,000 die in circumstances where organ donation is possible.

(PA Graphics)

“I am so grateful to all those families who have chosen to help others at a time of personal tragedy.

“This news will give hope to the desperately ill people who are waiting for that lifesaving phone call,” said NHSBT’s director of organ donation and transplantation Sally Johnson.

“The increase in donations and transplants is made possible thanks to the generosity of donors and their families.

“It also reflects the hard work of all the NHS staff who make this incredible service possible.

“This year we asked clinicians to miss no opportunity to make a transplant happen and despite the pressures on the NHS they’ve responded magnificently.

“We need to stress that the deadly shortage of organ donors remains.

Please, tell your family you want to donate, and join the NHS Organ Donor Register. Sally Johnson

“Around three people who could benefit from a donated organ still die a day.

“Please, tell your family you want to donate, and join the NHS Organ Donor Register.”

Prime Minister Theresa May announced in October that the Government will shift towards an opt-out organ donation system in England, which presumes people give consent for their organs and tissues to be donated in the event of their death unless they state otherwise.

An opt-out system has been operating in Wales since December 2015, and in June last year the Scottish Government announced plans to move to a soft opt-out system.

Around 500 people died last year while on the waiting list, or being taken off the list after becoming too unwell for transplant.

Janet Davies, chief executive and general secretary of the Royal College of Nursing, said: “As a country, we must build on the significant progress of the last 12 months.

“Nursing staff overwhelming support moving to an opt-out system for organ donation.

“When hundreds are still dying for want of a donor, this move could give more of them a fighting chance.”

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Meanwhile, figures from Wales show that deceased organ donation reached a record of 74 in 2017/18.

Welsh health secretary Vaughan Gething said: “The organ donation figures are definitely moving in the right direction but we do need to have several more years’ data to draw firmer conclusions around the impact of the change in the law.

“Every donor is incredibly precious; with approximately 300 people dying in circumstances where organ donation is possible we need everyone to say yes and for families to be ready to support this decision.

“We must not forget that behind every number is a person and a grieving family. My thanks go out to all those who choose to give the gift of life, and the family who support their decision. Without their generosity, others would not get their transformative transplant.”

Press Association

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