NHS Blood and Transplant revealed today that 500 people in the UK have now donated a kidney to a stranger as a living donor in the 10 years since the law was changed to allow this.
Among the 500 generous donors was a woman who lives in Swindon who donated one of her healthy kidneys to a stranger. This is known as non-directed (altruistic) living kidney donation.
Di Franks (64) from Swindon donated her kidney to a stranger in 2009 at Churchill Hospital, Oxford. She blogged about her experience and has since gone on to support and advise many other people considering or going through the donation process.
Di said: “There are more than 5000 people in the UK waiting for a kidney and around 300 people die each year in need of one. Having gone through the process myself and understanding the difference a kidney could make to someone’s life and health, I wanted to help others who might be considering donating. I set up my website www.livingkidneydonation.co.uk and it’s been wonderful to see the numbers increasing. Donating a kidney was the greatest gift I could have given anyone and has been incredibly satisfying to me.”
Any healthy adult can volunteer to be assessed as a living donor and a kidney from a living donor is the very best treatment option for most patients with kidney diseases. The volunteer donor goes through a thorough assessment over several months to ensure they are fit and healthy and that the risk to them is as low as possible. If approved, they are matched with a suitable recipient from the transplant waiting list, or they can also enter into a sharing scheme which enables one non-directed donor to potentially ‘trigger’ up to three transplants.
Bob Wiggins Chair of charity Give a Kidney which raises awareness of non-directed kidney donation said:
“We’re encouraging everyone to consider if you could share your spare. Many people still don’t know that any healthy adult can volunteer as a living donor. As a result of people like Di many hundreds of lives have been changed for the better. Not only that, but together this group has already saved the NHS tens of millions of pounds over the cost of keeping the recipients of their kidneys on dialysis treatment.”
Lisa Burnapp, Lead Nurse for Living Donation at NHS Blood and Transplant said: “Nearly three hundred people died waiting for a kidney transplant last year.
“Living donation is highly successful, and hundreds of people have had their lives saved and transformed in reaching this milestone over the past decade, thanks to the incredible generosity of these donors. Through donor chains, up to three people can benefit from a single donation because it can trigger a chain of transplants. The more people who are willing to consider donating in this way, the more kidneys there are available to help everyone waiting for a transplant.”
Living kidney donation has been taking place in the UK since the 1960s. It is a highly successful form of transplantation carried out at NHS hospitals and regulated by the Human Tissue Authority.
People wishing to consider giving the gift of a kidney to someone as a living donor can find out more at www.giveakidney.org #ShareYourSpare
To register your wish to donate your organs after your death please visit www.organdonation.nhs.uk