More people who are difficult to match for kidney transplants will benefit from changes to the way kidneys are offered to patients if more people agree to donate their organs after death.
Today is World Kidney Day and NHS Blood and Transplant is marking the occasion by celebrating the successful changes to the kidney offering scheme – which allocates kidneys from deceased donors to patients on the waiting list. The system was updated in September 2019 to make it fairer for those who find it hard to get a match or have been waiting for several years.
The previous offering scheme was very successful in matching kidneys to patients waiting for transplants. However, the update will mean those who are hard to match or have been waiting a long time will be given a certain level of priority to help close the gap on the length of time people wait for a transplant.
45% of all kidney transplants performed in the first five months of the new system were in difficult to match patients, compared with 37% in the same period the year before
The subtle changes to the way that kidneys are offered means it’s now even fairer to those waiting for a transplantAnthony Clarkson Director of Organ Donation at NHS Blood and Transplant
Organ transplants are only possible if people agree to donate their organs. Last year 1,600 people in the UK donated their organs after death, resulting in almost 4000 transplant operations – the majority of which were kidney transplants.
From May this year the new organ donation law will be implemented in England and organ donation will move to a system of deemed consent (or ‘opt out’), known as Max and Keira’s law.
There are currently around 4,800 people in the UK waiting for a kidney transplant, and a third of those are from black, Asian or minority ethnic communities. Receiving a suitable organ is more difficult for these patients because kidneys need to be matched by blood and tissue type; so, the most successful transplants will usually come from people of the same ethnic background.
NHS Blood & Transplant (NHSBT) Director of Organ Donation, Anthony Clarkson said; "Some people are more difficult to find a suitably matched kidney for than others – particularly those who are highly sensitised due to multiple blood transfusions or a previous transplant, or those from black, Asian and minority ethnic backgrounds who tend to have rarer tissue types.
"We hope that the new law encourages more people to record their donation decision and talk about organ donation with their families and in turn leads to more people donating, meaning more kidneys available for transplant."
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