Organ transplantation rates in the UK

BMJ 2017; 359 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.j5218 (Published 13 November 2017) Cite this as: BMJ 2017;359:j5218
  1. James Neuberger, consultant physician1,
  2. Patrick Trotter, research fellow2,
  3. Ronald Stratton, transplant recipient3
  1. 1Liver Unit, Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Birmingham, UK
  2. 2National Institute of Health Research Cambridge Biomedical Research Centre, University of Cambridge, Cambridge, UK
  3. 3Birmingham Patient and Public Involvement Panel, University of Birmingham, UK
  1. Correspondence to: J Neuberger James.Neuberger{at}uhb.nhs.uk

Latest figures show progress but not enough to satisfy demand

Figures released in September by NHS Blood and Transplant show that deceased donor organ transplantation in the UK is increasingly successful. There are more donors and recipients than ever before,1 long term survival is increasing, and waiting times for a kidney transplant are decreasing.2 However, these encouraging figures, brought about by the development, funding, and implementation of a national organ donation strategy, mask a continuing shortage of donated organs: up to one in six candidates for liver, heart, and lung transplantation die or become too ill for the procedure while waiting for an organ.2

In the UK, families refuse consent in 38% of donation requests, and a small number over-ride the registered wishes of the donor.2 Although registration on the organ donor register provides legal consent for donation, few surgeons will retrieve organs if families oppose it. Some ethnic minorities have higher refusal rates than the UK average and longer waits for kidney, heart, and lung transplants.2 Much is being done to encourage organ donation by these groups,3 but progress is …

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