Organ transplants double in three years

LIFE-saving organ transplants in Suffolk and north Essex have nearly doubled in three years, new figures have revealed.

Jonathan Barnes

LIFE-saving organ transplants in Suffolk and north Essex have nearly doubled in three years, new figures have revealed.

There were 72 organ transplants - including kidneys, livers and hearts - carried out in the region in 2008-9, a rise from 38 in 2005-6.

NHS bosses said they were pleased with the response to public appeals after 20,000 more people from the IP and CO postcodes signed up to the Organ Donor Register last year - an average of 52 a day.

But latest figures show there are still 79 local people waiting for vital transplants - and one kidney patient renewed calls for a system where people have to opt out from being an organ donor rather than having to opt in.

The NHS Blood and Transport authority said there 47 organ transplants for people in the IP area last year and 25 in the CO area.

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Fifty-three of those were kidney transplants - 19 of which were from live donors - 11 were livers and four were hearts.

The combined number of organ transplants across the two areas - 72 - showed a significant rise from 43 in the previous year. There were also 70 cornea and sclera transplants in 2008-9. Two people died while waiting for transplants.

Of the 79 people on the transplant waiting list in Suffolk and north Essex, 55 need a kidney, three are waiting for a new heart and two need a liver.

The authority said there are now 158,912 people in the IP area on the Organ Donor Register (ODR) - an extra 11,041 in a year - and 115,996 in the Colchester area - an increase of 8,039.

Melissa Warren, from the authority, said: “This year we reached the national target of 16million people on the ODR and we are aiming for 22.5million by 2016.

“We are trying to raise awareness that you are much more likely to need an organ than to donate one.

“It's pleasing to see more people signing up to the ODR but there are still thousands of people dying every year while they wait for a transplant. The need never goes away.”

She added: “This is such an important campaign because it encourages people to talk about their wishes. If you want to be an organ donor, talk to your family about it and let them know.

“It can give some meaning to a loved one's death to know that they are giving the gift of life to others.”

You can sign up to the ODR by visiting www.nhsbt.nhs.uk or calling the 24-hour hotline 0300 123 23 23.

TERESA Driver cannot understand why more people do not sign up to the Organ Donor Register.

The 37-year-old had a kidney transplant 23 years ago after a rare condition caused both her kidneys to fail and knows she owes her life to the donor.

“It doesn't bear thinking about what would have happened to me if I hadn't had a transplant,” she said.

“The transplant was successful and it has given me my quality of life. I am extremely grateful.”

Mrs Driver, from Waldringfield, said she believed people should have to opt out of donating their organs, rather than having to sign up to the register.

“It's great that more people are carrying donor cards but when you have been through what I have been through, you can't understand why people wouldn't want to join up to help. It's a sore subject with me,” said the veterinary receptionist.

“I know it is a difficult subject to talk about and it doesn't cross people's minds, but it is very important. It saves lives.

“I really believe you should have to opt out rather than sign up for a donor card. It has been talked about but it hasn't happened yet. But I would campaign to make it happen. I feel very strongly about it.”