The British Kidney Patient Association welcomes the latest news from NHS Blood and Transplant that transplants are increasing, but is concerned that too many patients still wait too long for a kidney transplant. Download the full Activity Report here >
Although the number of kidney transplants in the 2015/2016 period is higher than that for the 2005/2006 period this increase has barely been sufficient to keep pace with demand over the same period. The long waiting times mean that people get sicker and are suspended from the active waiting list. The number of suspended patients is now the highest it has ever been and therefore the total of those waiting is the same as it was 10 years ago. Sadly, nearly every day a kidney patient on the waiting list will die.
The organ donation consent rate has barely changed in recent years, and we will not see the revolution in transplantation that we seek until that happens. That is why we are asking everybody to join the organ donor register and have the donation conversation to tell their loved one what their donation decision is.
The numbers with kidney failure continue to grow every year, with diabetes, high blood pressure and infections being leading causes. There are also genetic conditions which are passed down through families. Kidney failure is common in Black, Asian and Minority ethnic communities, with a high incidence of diabetes, so the need for that donation conversation is especially important.
We recognise the generosity of organ donors and their families and the hard work of transplant teams, which has resulted in improved transplant activity figures compared with the decline shown in 2015. We are nevertheless also concerned at the high level of variability of waiting times between transplant units around the country and want to see this improve.
Life on dialysis can be challenging, with very difficult dietary and fluid restrictions and a heavy symptom burden including sleeplessness, anaemia, and itching plus the mental challenges of living with an incurable condition. A kidney transplant can relieve much of that burden and kidney patients never forget their donors and the gift of life that organ donation means.
Next week is organ donation week and we would urge everyone to have the Donation Conversation.
(1) The British Kidney Patient Association is the leading charity which for 40 years has supported quality of life for kidney patients and their families through direct grants, advocacy, counselling and NHS posts.
(2) Transplant Waiting List – in 2007 there were 7970 on the waiting list (6217 active and 1753 suspended) while in 2016 there are 8115 (5011 active and 3104 suspended). People are suspended from the list when they are unwell or out of the country.
(3) Waiting times in units - The median waiting time at each unit for a kidney transplant for patients registered between 2009 and 2015 varied between 478 and days and 1542 days