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LIFESAVING TRANSPLANTS: Donations still happening despite pandemic


A new report from NHS Blood and Transplant shows that despite the strains that Covid-19 put on the NHS over the last year, 324 people in the North West had their lives saved by an organ transplant.


The change in the law last May in England means it will be assumed that people want to be a donor after death unless they register otherwise.

In total, 3,391 people in the UK had their lives saved thanks to 1,180 people donating their organs after death.

The Organ and Tissue Donation and Transplantation Annual Activity Report 2020/21 shows that despite the global Covid-19 pandemic, levels were sustained at 75% of normal deceased donation activity and around 80% of normal transplant activity across the UK, which is testament to the strong foundation of altruism from families, support for donation across the UK and the dedication of clinical teams.

The number of patients registered on the active waiting list for a transplant in the North West fell to 594 at the end of March 2021, however, this does not fully reflect the number of people who need an organ transplant. Many patients were removed from the transplant list or transplant programmes closed during the peak of the pandemic as it was riskier to carry out transplants and NHS resources were under extra pressure.

John Forsythe, Medical Director of Organ and Tissue Donation and Transplantation, at NHS Blood and Transplant, says:

“This past year has been completely unprecedented in the history of the NHS, as well as in our wider society. So, the fact that 324 people in the North West received an organ transplant is amazing.

“Each one of us in the wider clinical team of donation and transplant, across the UK, are immensely proud of the work to keep organ donation and transplants happening in the most challenging circumstances. But our commitment is nothing compared with donors and their families – the gift of life has been donated by 171 people in the North West in the midst of a tragedy made even more difficult by Covid restrictions.

“However incredible this achievement, we mustn’t forget that there are still thousands of people in need of lifesaving organ transplants and we are doing our utmost to work with clinical teams and donor families to try and close the gap between those receiving a transplant and those still waiting.”

The number of families giving consent/authorisation for organ donation to go ahead has risen this year, from 68% to 69% overall for donation across the UK. This is particularly significant, as the pandemic and subsequent lockdown brought immense challenges for patients and their families. With many relatives often unable to visit or be with their loved ones in hospital, consent for organ donation was even more difficult for families as these sensitive conversations often had to be done virtually rather than face to face.


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