27/08/2002

More donors needed to ease transplant waiting list

It has been revealed that there is a shortage of kidney donors in Northern Ireland – with only 100 organs being donated in the past three years.

The Northern Ireland Kidney Replacement Centre, based at the Belfast City Hospital, say that there are around 200 people waiting for kidneys, but the number of donors has seen an alarming drop of around 40% in recent years.

Belfast City Hospital's Transplant Coordinator, Eleanor Donaghy, said: "People don't realise that you have to die in specific circumstances in order to become an organ donor – you have to be in an intensive care unit on a life-support machine.

"Our message is to get people to talk about organ donation, to decide if it something they would want to do and to let their families know.

The dearth of organ donors is not exclusive to Northern Ireland, and as of May 31 this year there were 4,923 patients people in the UK waiting for a transplant – but only about 2,700 transplants are carried out each year.

Last year, almost 400 people died while waiting for a kidney, heart, liver or lung to be donated, however many more people will lose their lives before they even get on to the waiting list.

Currently there are over 9.2 million people on the NHS Organ Donor Register – or around 16% of the population.

The Westminster Secretary of State for Health Alan Milburn has set a target of upping that to 16 million registered donors by 2010.

(GMcG)

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