New figures published today by NHS Blood and Transplant (NHSBT) show that last year (2019/20) 1,580 people in the UK donated their organs after they died. In London, 184 people gave the gift of life, by donating their organs after death.
The national deceased organ donor figures were on course to surpass the previous year’s total, but unfortunately the global Covid-19 pandemic had a wide-reaching impact across the whole NHS and every aspect of UK society.
The high number of organ donors last year, on track to be another record, is testament to the strong support for organ donation in the UK and was possible thanks to more incredible families agreeing to support donation. This allowed 3,760 patients to have the organ transplant they needed, including 695 people in London.
The strong foundations built in organ donation and transplantation over the last decade ensured some donation and transplantation activity was able to continue even during the peak of the Covid-19 pandemic. Patient safety is paramount, and the most urgent transplants continued to be prioritised.
The recovery of donation and transplantation is now well under way and the majority of transplant units have now reopened. Activity levels are improving as NHSBT and everyone in the NHS works to enable as many families as possible to gain comfort through organ donation and save and improve as many lives as possible.
There are more than 6,000 people in need of a transplant in the UK, with 1,246 of these patients living in London. Sadly, in London in the last five years, 374 people died before they received the organ they desperately needed.
England moved to an opt out system, bringing in Max and Keira’s law, on May 20, 2020 and it is hoped public support for organ donation will continue to improve.
Anthony Clarkson, director of organ donation and transplantation at NHS Blood and Transplant, said: “Amazing organ donors and their families make life-saving transplants possible, by giving their support and saying ‘yes’ to organ donation.
“It’s wonderful to see that we were, once again, on track to surpass the number of organ donors in 2019/20 than the previous year before Covid-19 hit. This is testament to the selfless families, including 184 families in London, who agreed to donate their loved one’s organs in the most tragic of circumstances.
“It is disappointing but inevitable that donation and transplantation has been impacted by the worldwide pandemic. What is incredible though is that throughout this crisis, we have continued to see such strong support for organ donation and the most urgent transplants have still gone ahead and saved the lives of desperately ill adults and children.
“We are, along with our fantastic NHS colleagues, focused on the continued recovery of this immensely important work, which brings comfort to grieving families and gives people another chance at life.
“As we learn to live with Covid-19 and boosted by the new law and growing public support, we hope more lives than ever before can be saved. I urge everyone in London to make their organ donation decision and tell their family about it.”