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Monday, 14 October, 2002, 05:22 GMT 06:22 UK
Scotland faces organ donor shortage
Organ donation
Organ donation rates are said to be falling
An appeal has been made for more Scots to carry organ donor cards as the Scottish Liver Transplant Unit celebrated its tenth anniversary.

The unit has carried out more than 400 transplants since it opened, but there was a warning that Scotland is facing a severe shortage of donor organs.

Deputy health minister Mary Mulligan appealed for more Scots to think positively about organ donation, discuss their wishes with their loved ones and carry an organ donor card.

She made her plea at a ceremony at Edinburgh's Murrayfield Stadium to mark the liver transplant unit's anniversary.

Mary Mulligan
Mary Mulligan appealed for more Scots to become donors

Mrs Mulligan said: "Around 6,000 people across the UK need an organ transplant each year but only around 2,800 transplants are carried out because the number of people donating organs in recent years has fallen and is continuing to fall.

"At the Scottish Liver Transplant Unit, as at all our transplant units, highly dedicated transplant teams are helping to save and prolong the lives of many Scots who are seriously ill.

"But unless we address the chronic shortage of donor organs in this country and the rest of the UK, future opportunities to save more lives will be lost."

Ad campaigns

Mrs Mulligan said it was vital members of the public were reminded about the importance of organ donation and the best ways to do it.

She added: "Unless more people continue to donate organs, thousands of people will face an increasingly impaired quality of life or, in many cases, death."

The deputy minister said the Scottish Executive was keen to promote the idea and was already working on various initiatives including school projects and advertising campaigns.

The unit is based at the Royal Infirmary in Edinburgh.

Donors needed

Before it opened in 1992 Scottish patients who required liver transplantation had to travel south of the border, usually to Birmingham, for their care.

Professor James Garden, director of the unit, said: "The continuing success of transplantation in Scotland is totally dependent on the availability of donors.

"We are very conscious that our patients have benefited from someone else's loss, but would urge everyone to consider registering as an organ donor so that future patients in Scotland will benefit."

Since it opened it has carried out more than 400 transplants and on Sunday more than 150 of the people it has given a new liver to, got together for a party at Murrayfield Stadium.

See also:

08 Jul 02 | Scotland
05 Jul 02 | Scotland
17 Mar 02 | England
18 Aug 01 | Health
30 Oct 02 | Scotland
14 Feb 01 | Health
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