Kidney donors wanted for difficult matches

Call for more non-directed living kidney donors to help cut transplant waiting list.

91 people in the West Midlands have received a kidney transplant from a stranger in the last five years – thanks to someone they didn’t know donating altruistically while they are still alive.

The figures come to mark World Kidney Day on 14th March with a call for more people in the West Midlands to consider making a life-transforming donation.

NHS Blood and Transplant is celebrating the week of World Kidney Day by performing the 1,000th transplant under the UK Living Kidney Sharing Scheme. The scheme started in April 2007 because many ‘difficult to match’ patients had friends and family who wanted to donate a kidney but weren’t a compatible match by blood group or tissue type.

Organ donation box arriving at hospital for transplant operation.

If the patient enters the sharing scheme with their friend or family member, the pair may be matched with another couple in the scheme so that each recipient receives a kidney from the other’s friend or family member. This kidney exchange programme increases the number of people who can receive transplants from living kidney donors and the opportunities for patients who wait a long time for a transplant.

The UKLKSS can match pairs in either two or three-way swaps or in ‘chains’ of up to 3 transplants, triggered by a non-directed altruistic kidney donor (NDAD). This is where someone volunteers to donate a kidney to someone they don’t know

Those who donate a kidney anonymously while they are alive, are game changers in the fight to increase the number of kidney transplants for those on the waiting list in the West Midlands each year.

For suitable patients, transplantation is normally a better treatment for end stage kidney disease compared to dialysis. A transplant from a living kidney donor is the best chance of a successful transplant.

Lisa Burnapp, NHS Blood and Transplant Lead Nurse for Kidney Donation said: “Non-directed altruistic donors really are the game changers in the kidney sharing scheme. Particularly for the difficult to transplant patients, they make the world of difference.

“Living donation has been a major success story for the UK, with 1 in 3 patients receiving a kidney transplant from a living donor. So, the more non-directed altruistic donors we have kicking off a chain means there are potentially 3 times as many transplants possible. Anyone in the West Midlands who has ever considered donating to a stranger, could be one of those game changers who start the chain to enable more people to get the lifesaving transplant they so desperately need.”

Altruistic donations can start chains of up to three transplants through the UK’s kidney sharing schemes. In 2018, 48% of non-directed altruistic donations in the UK formed part of a chain in the scheme compared to just 30% in 2017.

Around a third of all people waiting for a kidney transplant are from black and Asian communities. People from these communities have a higher incidence of conditions such as diabetes, making them more likely to need a kidney transplant. Organs are matched by blood group and tissue type and people from the same ethnic background are more likely to be a match.

In the UK living kidney transplants have been performed since 1960. There are currently 425 people waiting for a kidney in the West Midlands and 108 people have died on the transplant waiting list waiting for a kidney in the last five years.

For more information on living donation visit here

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