Organ donation in the UK
After a year of concerted effort to boost UK organ donation rates, the number of people agreeing to donate their organs after death is growing; however, the rate is still growing at a slower rate than it's required to be.
The worry for the Organ Donation Taskforce is that the waiting list for organs is continuing to grow.
The BMA doctors' union has said that it is time to seriously debate presumed consent, in which everyone is seen as a donor.
The number of people volunteering to join the register has grown by 6.5 percent in the last year. This hit the 16 million mark for the first time, but yet it still accounts for only about a quarter of the population.
The taskforce is working to implement a series of recommendations to ensure that suitable organs are retrieved from those willing to donate as part of a drive to improve the UK's donation rate, which lags behind much of Europe.
Only about a third of potential donors in fact become donors, with relatives' refusal being a key obstacle.
In the last year, an extra 100 donor transplant co-ordinators have been appointed across the country, and new systems introduced to ensure potential donors are identified and relatives approached as death becomes the likely outcome.
This year, the number of deceased donors increased by 11 percent, leading to an extra 174 extra transplants. Living donations also rose at a similar rate, with 104 extra transplants - primarily kidneys.
By 2013, the government wants to see 25 million people on the Organ Donor Register, and the number of donations to have increased by 50 percent. In England, a major public awareness campaign aimed at boosting the numbers on the register is about to begin.
A system of presumed consent, in operation in many of the countries with the highest donation rates, was rejected last year by the Organ Donation Taskforce in favour of these better co-ordinated efforts to retrieve organs.
At present, there are nearly 10,000 people needing an organ, a figure that is rising by around eight percent each year.
One of the main factors behind this increase is the increasing incidence of kidney failure in the UK - particularly in the over-50s and black and ethnic minority communities. Of those on the list 1000 will die while waiting, or are removed because they have become too ill to undergo a transplant.
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