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Monday, 23 September, 2002, 17:53 GMT 18:53 UK
Patients warned over buying organs
Organ box
The sale of human organs is banned in the UK
British patients who are waiting for a kidney transplant have been warned against buying organs abroad.

It follows a small study by a senior transplant surgeon who found that 29 people have travelled overseas and paid for a kidney in recent years.

However, the transplant failed in more than half of the cases and 12 patients subsequently died.


There will always be some people who will resort to desperate measures

Mr Andrew Ready, Queen Elizabeth Hospital
There are fears that a severe shortage of available kidneys in Britain is encouraging patients to try to buy organs abroad.

Seven thousand people are currently waiting for a kidney transplant. However, a lack of organs meant just 3,000 had an operation last year.

In August, retired GP Dr Bhagat Singh Makkar from London was struck off the medical register after he was found guilty of offering to obtain a kidney for a patient.

A second GP Dr Jarnail Singh from Coventry will appear before the General Medical Council on similar charges later this year.

UK-wide study

Doctors at Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham believe six patients from their unit have travelled to India for a kidney transplant in recent years. Four of these patients died.

Mr Andrew Ready, clinical director of the hospital's renal unit, found that many more patients have also gone overseas in search of an organ.

He sent a questionnaire to 32 of the other renal units in the UK. Seventeen replied and 12 said overall 23 patients from their units had travelled abroad for an operation.

All of the patients had opted for this treatment against medical advice.

In a letter in The Lancet, Mr Ready said eight of the 23 patients died and a further five lost the transplanted kidney.

In a statement on Monday, Mr Ready said the results were preliminary.

Warning

But he warned patients against paying for organs.

He said: "We abhor the practice of paying for kidneys for transplantation and advise our patients in the strongest terms not to embark on this course of action.

"However, we recognise that whilst the demand for kidneys exceed supply, there will always be some people who will resort to desperate measures.

"The preliminary findings published in the Lancet letter have proved useful in demonstrating to patients the risk of such actions.

"We would urge anyone in the UK in need of a kidney transplant to discuss their options with their UK consultant.

"We also strongly support initiatives proposed by UK Transplant and the British Transplantation Society aimed at increasing the rate of kidney donation in the UK from both cadaveric and living donors.

"Only through these means will the plight of desperate dialysis patients be eased."

See also:

30 Aug 02 | Health
30 Aug 02 | Health
10 Oct 98 | Europe
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