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Last Updated: Monday, 30 May, 2005, 23:02 GMT 00:02 UK
Living organ donor drive launched
Surgery (generic)
Organs from living donors produce better results
A campaign to encourage more people to donate a kidney to a loved one who needs a transplant is being launched by the government.

More than 6,000 people in the UK need a kidney transplant, but there is a severe shortage of donor organs.

Experts say receiving a kidney from a living donor produces better results than using an organ from a dead person.

However, the rates of living kidney donation in the UK are significantly lower than in many countries.

It is essential that we increase the number of organs available
Rosie Winterton

Since April 2004, 1,915 kidney transplants have been conducted, with 526 of these from live donors.

But in the US and Scandinavian countries living kidney donation accounts for up to 40% of all kidney transplants.

Research shows that 93% of kidneys from a living donor survive for at least a year after transplant surgery, compared with 87% which come from a dead person.

After five years, the figures are 84% for organs from live donors compared with 73% for organs from the dead.

The aim of the latest initiative is to use a nurse specialist to educate potential donors and recipients about the benefits of using a kidney from a living donor.

The scheme, backed by several leading pharmaceutical firms, will be piloted at dialysis units in Preston and Wolverhampton and, if successful, will be rolled out across the country.

Essential move

Health minister Rosie Winterton said: "The number of patients requiring a transplant has increased dramatically over recent years.

"It is essential that we increase the number of organs available, and living kidney transplantation is one way of doing so."

Sue Sutherland, of UK Transplant, said: "The success rates of living kidney transplants compared to cadaveric donations are hugely impressive.

"Increasing the education of patients and their families and friends about living kidney transplant as an option is an imperative if we are to increase the number of people who can benefit from a successful transplant."

Treating people for kidney failure costs the NHS 1.1% of its total budget - around 750m in 2002-03.

There are currently around 19,000 people on dialysis - each costing the NHS up to 35,000 a year.

Transplanting a kidney patient costs 46,000 over five years. A patient remaining on dialysis would cost up to 175,000 over the same period.

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