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Record High for UK Organ Transplants

[The following Press Release was issued by NHSBT on 3 November 2010]


A record high of 3,706 transplants were carried out in the UK last year NHSBT announced today in its Annual Activity Report 2009/10. This was an increase of 5% over the previous year and shows a steady increase since 2000.

The year also saw an increase of 7% in the number of deceased organ donors reaching a record high of 959 and a 10% increase in the number of living donors to 1,061.

“I am delighted that we have been able to save more lives through increased organ donation and transplantation,” said Sally Johnson, Director of Organ Donation and Transplantation at NHSBT.

“We have made huge improvements to the way we work in hospitals and in promoting the overwhelming need for organs and I am glad these changes are reaping real rewards with so many lives saved. But there is more we must do if we are to save the three people a day who are currently dying due to lack of a suitable organ. One step is for people to sign up to the NHS Organ Donor Register and to tell their families they wish to donate.”

These improvements are based on the implementation of the Organ Donation Taskforce recommendations made in 2008. This aimed to bring about a 50% increase in organ donation rates by 2013. Since then, deceased donation has increased by 19% and the overall donation rate for the UK has risen to 15.5 per million population, from 13.1 pmp.

“One of the key changes has been the employment by NHSBT of more than 200 specialist nurses in organ donation most of whom are now based in Intensive Care Units across the UK working alongside a growing network of 185 clinical organ donation leads,” said Ms Johnson.

Other notable figures for transplant activity last year include:

  • a 12% increase in the number of sight-saving cornea transplants, up to 3,061
  • an 8% increase in the total number of kidney transplants
  • a 3% increase in the total number of deceased liver transplants
  • a 6% increase in membership of the NHS Organ Donor Register (ODR) which ended March 2010 at 17,077,105 compared with 16,124,871 at the end of March 2009
  • 87% of all those now on the ODR say they are willing to donate all their organs or tissue
  • a drop of 2% in both the number of pancreas and cardiothoracic organ transplants.

The number of patients registered for a transplant continued to increase last year although at a slower rate than in previous years, resulting in 7,997 patients waiting for a transplant at the end of March 2010, 2% up on last year.

“This shows that our work to promote the importance of organ donation must not stop as the need is increasing despite the increase in the number of transplants,” added Ms Johnson.


For further information or to request an interview, please contact the NHSBT Press Office on 0117 969 2444 during normal hours, or email us at pressoffice@nhsbt.nhs.uk. Out of hours, page us on 07659 133583.

Notes to editors

  • To view a copy of the Activity Report under embargo, go to www.nhsbt.nhs.uk/downloads/pdfs/temp/report.pdf
  • A graph plotting the total number of organ transplants in the UK since 2000-01 to 2009-10 can be downloaded here - go to www.nhsbt.nhs.uk/downloads/pdfs/temp/graph.pdf
  • Deceased organ donors are mainly identified from those who have been diagnosed dead through brain stem tests in a hospital Intensive Care Unit.
  • Growing numbers of patients who die through cardiac death in Intensive Care or an Emergency Department are also becoming donors.
  • The number of donors after brain death (DBD) has increased by 2% to 623 over the last three years, an improvement which ends a year on year decrease from 2000-08.
  • The number of donors after cardiac death (DCD) also increased last year by 17% to 336 and continue to help to bridge the gap between the number waiting and receiving organ transplants.

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