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More organ donors are needed than ever with waiting times on the rise since the pandemic

ORGAN donation is on the rise, with almost 30 million of us registered to give the ultimate gift and save a stranger’s life.

Last year, vital organ transplants — kidney, heart, liver, pancreas, small bowel and lung — kept more than 4,000 recipients alive.

Organ donors are on the rise but there are still not enough to cope with demand

But there are still more people on the transplant waiting list than there are donors, with 6,250 — including 200 children — waiting for these lifesaving operations.

Dr Matthew Byrne from charity We Are Donors says becoming a donor could help to save one of the two to three people who die every day while waiting for a transplant.  

By law, every adult in England is considered to have agreed to be a donor after death, if their organs are needed, unless they have recorded a decision to opt out.

If you decide you don’t want to donate but change your mind, you can opt in again on the NHS register.

When a person dies, their family can refuse to donate their organs if they have information that their loved one would not have wanted to do so.

Dr Byrne said: “We want people to have those important conversations with loved ones about whether you’re happy to donate your organs when you die.  

“There’s no age limit to who can donate.”

Some 60 per cent of organ donations come from people who have died, while 39 per cent are from living donors.



Most living donations are a kidney. All vital organs — except the brain — can be transplanted, as well as the cornea.  

There are currently more than 5,000 waiting for a kidney, 600 needing a liver, 300 on the heart transplant list, 300 needing a new lung and 300 waiting for a pancreas, according to NHS figures.

And for some of those, there are less than half the number of donors available.

Organ donors and recipients are matched by blood type

‘PROBLEMS AT BIRTH’

Dr Byrne added: “When someone needs an organ transplant, it is because one of their organs has stopped working.

“It might be caused by problems originating at birth, for example heart problems, or genetic problems such as cystic fibrosis, which might require a lung transplant.

“In later life, diseases such as high blood pressure and diabetes can lead to organ failure and the transplant of a kidney, for example.

“Immune conditions, infections, injuries and accidents can also mean someone needs a new organ.”

Donors and recipients are matched by blood type and, where possible, a younger donor will be chosen to give the recipient more years ahead.

Of those waiting for an organ, 70 per cent need a kidney and there are 39,000 living with donated ones, according to Kidney Care UK.

‘GIVE THEM HOPE’

The charity’s policy director Fiona Loud explained that the wait for a match for a kidney is between six months and five years.

The pandemic drove up waiting list times.

She said: “People are constantly coming on to the list.

“Donation is a really important conversation to have with relatives while you are well.

“Fundamentally, people are kind and it can give them hope to know someone has been able to live through their generosity.

“Leaving everyone around you certain of your intentions is the surest way to do that.”

‘Transformation was amazing’

WHEN dad of three Ravi Singh was diagnosed with kidney failure in 2020, he was so tired that every day was a struggle.

He spent 18 months on daily dialysis, four times a day, waiting for a life-saving transplant.

Daksha Varsani answered an SOS to donate a kidney to save Ravi Singh’s life

The charity CEO from Slough, Berks, posted a plea for a donor on Facebook, which reached mum-of-three Daksha Varsani, in Milton Keynes.

She knew of Ravi, having volunteered for his charity, but they had never met.

Office administrator Daksha, 50, said: “I was already on the bone marrow donation register.

“I was passionate about being able to give someone else life if I could but I’d never been a match. When I saw Ravi’s post I got in touch.”

Hospital tests revealed the pair were a match, and Daksha underwent a five-hour surgery this summer to give Ravi her kidney. They recovered on adjacent wards.

Ravi said: “What Daksha did for me hasn’t properly sunk in. I’ve never seen a bigger act of kindness.

“Within a day of my operation I felt the energy return. The transformation was amazing, all thanks to her generosity.”

Daksha, who was back to work less than a month later, said: “We both cried after the operation.

“Ours is an example that this is a wonderful, safe thing to do.”

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