UK suffers donor shortage among under-30s

  • 19 July 2010
  • From the section Health

It's unusual to see people outside a hospital with tubes attached to them.

However, anyone who meets 17-year-old Ayesha Ahmed from Newcastle can't miss the grey, plastic wires coming out of her nose.

This is because she can't breathe on her own and is linked up to an oxygen machine 24 hours a day.

Ayesha's one of around 1,000 people in the UK under the age of 30 who needs an organ donor.

She was diagnosed with Wegener's granulomatosis two years ago and needs a double lung transplant to lead a normal life again.

It's a condition which has weakened her lungs and means she has problems breathing.

"I get breathless quite easily," she admitted. "Anything like a simple cold can hit me quite badly and usually I'd end up in hospital.

"Getting a donor can happen at any time, you might get it you might not.

"I sometimes think, 'What did I do wrong? Why is this happening to me and will I get this transplant in time? What if I don't?'"

'Housebound'

Medical experts say they're worried about the shortage of donors available in the UK and are trying to encourage more people to sign up.

Doctor Gerlinde Mandersloot is in charge of organ donation at the Royal London Hospital.

Ayesha Ahmed
Ayesha says she hasn't been able to go out with her mates since April

She said: "For these people, either being housebound, not being able to go out with their friends, not being able to get the careers they want, is a terrible limbo to be in."

At least three people a day die in the UK waiting for a transplant while they're on the organ donor register.

This excludes people who have become so unwell that a transplant wouldn't be successful in the first place.

The UK has one of the lowest figures in Western Europe, with only around 17 million people on the NHS organ donor register.

That number is just over a quarter of the UK population.

More than 8,000 people in the UK need an organ transplant.

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