Organ transplants 'on the rise'

Donor organ for transplant

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The number of organ transplants is continuing to rise, but the UK still lags behind other countries, official figures show.

There were 4,655 transplants carried out in 2013-14 - a 10% rise on the year before and the eighth year in succession the numbers have gone up.

But the NHS Blood and Transplant data showed three people a day still died because of a shortage of donors.

By 2020 the NHS wants to increase the donor rate by more than 50%.

That would bring the UK in line with the best performing countries such as Spain.

The big push in recent years has been translating the number of people on the donor register - just over 20 million currently - into organs being made available.

Four in 10 families block organ donation after a loved one has died, despite them being registered as an organ donor.

Hospitals have increasingly been employing more specialist organ-donation nurses to approach and support bereaved relatives in hospitals to try to rectify this.

Transplant recipient Sophie Washington talks about the difference a new pancreas has made to her

Biggest problem

But Sally Johnson, of NHS Blood and Transplant, said it was also essential those signing up to the organ donor register let their families know and discussed it with them before death.

"Family refusal is our biggest problem and it's sad we lag behind some other countries in terms of consent," she said.

"We understand that families often have to consider donation in their darkest hour. So rather than wait for that moment, please ask yourself now whether you think it is right to accept people dying in need of a transplant in the UK?

"If we would accept an organ for ourselves or would want someone we love to be saved by a transplant shouldn't we be willing to donate too?"

Not all donations come from dead patients, however, with just over 1,000 of the transplants last year achieved by donations from living people, the figures showed.

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