UK & World News

  • 19 April 2014, 6:25

Big Increase In 'Stranger' Kidney Donations

The number of people donating their kidneys to strangers has risen dramatically in the last seven years.

So-called altruistic donation first became possible in 2007. In that year, just three kidneys were donated but last year some 107 donations took place.

Tom Higgs, 13, waited for a transplant for five years after his kidneys failed. He had to have dialysis treatment 11 hours a day and he spent months in hospital until a donor was found.

"I would still be on dialysis but instead of having a tube I would have the needle kind of dialysis where I had to go to the hospital every day - that would have been even harder," he said.

Despite the rise in altruistic donations, some 5,650 people are currently waiting for a new kidney in the UK.

Tom Cledwyn, 28, decided to become a living donor, but he has no idea who the recipient was.

"Whilst my mum didn't have kidney failure, that doesn't mean that someone's mum doesn't," he said.

"Donating to someone I didn't know felt as compelling as if one of my friends or family members suffered from kidney failure."

Only a kidney or a lobe of liver can be given by a living donor.

Although a major operation the lead nurse for living donation at the NHS, Lisa Burnapp, says most people go on to live a normal life after the operation.

"If you're healthy beforehand and you have two healthy kidneys you can safely donate a kidney and live a healthy life thereafter on a single kidney," she said.

It is hoped that by raising awareness of altruistic donations, more people will sign up to either become living donors or give permission for their organs to be used after they die.

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