Page last updated at 16:38 GMT, Friday, 29 May 2009 17:38 UK

UK transplants 'at record high'

Organ for transplant
Thousands of people still need organ transplants

Last year saw a record high in the number of organ transplants carried out in the UK, NHS figures show.

There were 3,504 organ transplants between April 2008 and March 2009, up 8% on the previous 12 months.

The number of blood donors registered in England and north Wales increased by 245,000, halting a five year fall.

But the NHS warned the need for donations had "never been greater", with 10,000 awaiting a transplant and 7,000 blood donations needed each day.

We should be willing to give
Health minister Ann Keen

There are 1.4m registered blood donors in England and North Wales but around 200,000 give up every year for various reasons including medical conditions or pregnancy, so there is a continuous need to attract new donors.

There four main blood groups are O, A, B and AB. Group O is the most common and so in highest demand. A regular supply of blood is vital red cells last only 35 days and platelets only five days.

NHS Blood and Transplant last year removed the requirement to retire at the age of 70, widening the pool of people who can donate.

Scotland, Wales and Ireland have their own blood services. England serves north Wales because it is logistically easier to transport supplies from the north-west of England rather than from south Wales.

Family and friends

The figures from NHS Blood and Transplant also show there was a 7% increase in the number of people joining the Organ Donor Register last year, with the total rising from 15.14 million to 16.12 million by the end of March 2009.

There was an increase in the number of deceased organ donors from 809 in 2007-08 to 900 last year and an increase in living organ donation, from 852 in 2007-08 to 944 in 2008-09.

Lynda Hamlyn, chief executive of NHS Blood and Transplant, said: "We have seen yet another increase in the number of organ transplants and a significant number of new donors registering to give blood.

"But in order to meet the growing number of patients waiting for a transplant and needing blood on a daily basis, we are asking more people to become regular blood donors and sign up to the NHS Organ Donor Register."

She added: "It is important that people talk to their families and friends about their organ donation wishes so that these can be respected after their death."

Chris Rudge, National Clinical Director of Transplantation, said: "Working with the wider NHS, great strides are being made with developing organ donation services across the UK so it is excellent news that increasing numbers of transplants were carried out last year."

Health Minister Ann Keen said: "The support of the public is vital in ensuring a supply of blood and organs for those in need.

"Donation is one simple action that all individuals can consider. We never know when we or a member of our family might need help themselves. So we should be willing to give."

People can ring 0300 123 23 23 to make an appointment to give blood or be added to the NHS Organ Donor Register.

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