|Tony Ward - Transplant recipient, mountaineer, husband, father and great advocate for kidney care carrying the Olympic torch|
The UK lags behind many countries in Europe and North America in rates of kidney transplantation despite strong public support, a series of initiatives over the years and an undisputed economic case. The Organ Donation Task Force report published in 2008 set a goal increasing organ donation by 50% by 2013. Importantly, under Chris Rudge’s leadership, it implemented the infrastructure needed to move organ donation from a somewhat haphazard variably event to be regarded as a usual occurrence in hospital as part of a planned and resourced system of care. Much of that work is now complete and the recent .focus has been on driving processes to increase the level of organ donation to reach or exceed the 50% increase target set nearly 5 years ago. Progress has been slower than anyone in the kidney community would have liked, but the foundations are now solid and I was pleased to see more ambitious organ donation figures in the new NHS Blood and Transplant strategic plan 2012-17.
Predicting the future is always difficult! I recall a comment from a good friend some 15 years ago, when the Greater Manchester Renal Project Group estimated future demand and came up with a figure of 978 patients requiring dialysis some 5 years into the future. Not 960, not 980, not nearly a thousand but 978! Colin Short, recently retired consultant renal physician at Manchester Renal Infirmary, said, “You're wrong- I am just not sure by how much!” Colin was of course correct. Ranges are better than precise targets. Even though some will regard a 60% increase in deceased organ donation by 2017 as modest, no one is saying lets get to 4480 transplants and stop!! Let us aim to break the 5000 barrier sooner rather than later.
The NHS Blood and Transplant plan has some detailed objectives to build on the infrastructure now in place. This needs to link with the black and minority ethnic (BME) manifesto to improve organ donation and transplant rates in these communities. The manifesto was launched on March 7th, World Kidney Day, in the House of Commons by the all-party kidney group and consists of 4 strategic challenges and 12 specific action points to help raise awareness, encourage greater donation rates and optimise access to transplantation among BME communities. It is excellent that Kirit Modi the Vice Chairman of the National Kidney Federation is now co-chairing the implementation of this initiative.
Finally (for now), and last but not least, it was great to see Chris Rudge – former Chief Executive of UK Transplant and National Clinical Director for Transplantation, along with Jonathan Hope- previous chair of the Guy’s, St. Thomas and King’s College Hospital, kidney care modernisation initiative recognised in the Queen’s special birthday honours this year.