Wednesday, 16 January 2008

Organs for transplant: 50% increase in organ donation within 5 years

The Secretary of State announced that the government would fully fund the recommendations of the Organ Donation Task Force which has set us the goal of a 50% increase in organ donation in the UK within 5 years. This would result in an additional 1200 transplants a year and have a major positive impact on the landscape for people approaching or with end stage renal failure and their families.

The report proposes a radical shift from existing arrangements, recommending recruitment of around 100 extra transplant donor coordinators to work with hospitals and guide and support bereaved families through the donation process. These extra staff and existing coordinators are to be employed centrally by NHS Blood and Transplant rather than individual Trusts which will mean and end to varied employment, training and practices across the country.

In addition, a new strengthened network of organ retrieval teams is to be established to work closely with critical care teams to improve organ retrieval.

The report has 14 recommendations in total which include encouraging the whole NHS to make organ donation a usual rather than unusual event by developing local organ donation policies with identified clinical donor leads or donation committees in each Acute Trust. Clinical directors and other members of the renal team, particularly in non-transplanting Trusts, have an important role to play in promoting this change in culture.

I have congratulated Elisabeth Buggins (Chair of the Organ Donation Task Force) on an excellent peice of work. Elisabeth said "90% of the UK population supports organ donation and transplantation in principal, but too many people are dying because donation too often, is not made possible in practice.

The UK has one of the lowest rates of donation in Europe and it was in recognition of this that the Task Force was created.

This work has been amongst the most rewarding in my professional life. I am grateful to fellow Task Force members for the dedication and commitment they have shown as well as the international advisors that have helped us develop the recommendations."

This is a great opportunity to save more lives every year. I hope the NHS and the general public will seize it with both hands. Please play your part.