New online tool launched to make living donation process easier

Kate Bullion, from Lowestoft, donated a kidney to a stranger Picture: NHSBT

Kate Bullion, from Lowestoft, donated a kidney to a stranger Picture: NHSBT - Credit: Archant

A new online tool has been launched for the first time in a bid make the process of living organ donation easier for those who want to save a stranger’s life.

An organ donation box arriving at hospital for transplant operation Picture: NHSBT

An organ donation box arriving at hospital for transplant operation Picture: NHSBT - Credit: NHSBT

NHS Blood and Transplant has produced a simple online expression of interest form to streamline the referral process for non-directed altruistic living donation and to improve people’s experience.

The number of non-directed altruistic donations – donating a kidney to someone whom the donor has never met or known – has plauteaued over the last five years.

The new form offers a simple way for those who want to express their interest in donating a kidney or part of their liver to a stranger to contact their nearest transplant centre.

For suitable patients, transplantation is normally the best treatment for end stage kidney disease compared with dialysis.

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A transplant from a living kidney donor is often the best chance of a successful transplant.

Kate Bullion, 53, from Lowestoft, decided to donate a kidney anonymously to a stranger, but was told she was too overweight.

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Determined to make a difference, the carer lost six-and-a-half stone to eventually make the donation possible.

“I gained as much as I gave with the donation,” she said. “The weight loss made me so much healthier and I felt that it was important to give someone a chance at a better life.

“Most of my family were against me doing it at first, but I wanted to do it. I don’t need two kidneys and to me it felt like I was passing on something I didn’t need, just like giving clothes to charity.”

In 2017/18 there were 940 adult living donor kidney transplants performed in the UK - 123 of those were paired or pooled and 85 were altruistic donor transplants – given voluntarily to a stranger.

Kate added: “My recovery took about six months, but if I could I would be prepared to do it all again. It felt right to give someone hope and a chance at a better life. I have been able to live a normal life and it felt important to help someone else do the same.”

Lisa Burnapp, lead nurse for living donation at NHS Blood and Transplant, said: “Our aim is to ensure that all donors have the best possible experience and that no donation opportunity is lost.

“Inspired by discussions with the ‘Give a Kidney’ charity, the online expression of interest form is for people who do not have a recipient in mind, but simply want to transform a life by donating an organ to someone in need.

“Non-directed altruistic kidney donors are game-changers for patients waiting for a transplant.

“By donating their kidneys into the UK Living Kidney Sharing Scheme, they trigger a chain of up to 2 or 3 kidney transplants and everyone gains.

“More patients and their families benefit from a successful transplant and more organs are available for every patient waiting.”

This is the first time an online submission option for living donation has been available and is separate to the NHS Organ Donor Register, which records the wishes of those wanting to donate organs after death.

For more information on living donation and to access the expression of interest form visit

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