2 Nov 2011

Appeal launched for kidney donors

Almost 3 million Britons would consider donating one of their kidneys to a stranger who needs a transplant, according to a new poll.

The YouGov poll also found that a third of adults do not realise they are allowed to donate one of their kidneys to someone they do not know. It has been possible to do so since 2006.

These findings coincide with the launch of a new charity, ‘Give a Kidney – One is Enough’, which is trying to raise awareness of the importance of donation.

Dr Chris Burns-Cox, a kidney donor who came up with the idea of the charity, said: “Not enough people know about the NHS scheme, which is a tragedy. More than 300 people a year die on the waiting list for a kidney transplant, and we think those deaths could be prevented if more people knew they could give.”

More than 300 people a year die on the waiting list for a kidney transplant. Dr Chris Burns-Cox

The poll found that 8 per cent of adults would consider donating a kidney to a stranger, while 74 per cent said they might do so for a family member.

Dr Burns-Cox said: “We are delighted with the results of the survey. Eight per cent of the population is more than 3 million people. If only 1 per cent of those people donated a kidney, the waiting list of 6,500 would be cleared more than four times over.”

The charity says that wiping out the waiting list for kidney transplants could save the NHS £650m over five years. There are 6,526 people on the waiting list.

The appeal for altruistic donors was launched by Channel 4 News presenter Jon Snow, who said: “Nobody needs telling that the crisis in kidney donation is acute.”

Stranger donations

Since 2007, 88 people have donated a kidney to a stranger. Patients typically live 10 to 15 years longer with a kidney transplant than if they were kept on dialysis.

The long-term risk of dying from donating a kidney is no greater than for anyone of a similar age who has not had a kidney removed.

These people are not crackpots or loons. Dr Paul Gibbs

Paul Gibbs, consultant transplant surgeon for Queen Alexandra Hospital in Portsmouth, has performed nearly 200 kidney transplants. Speaking about altruistic donors, he said: “These people are not crackpots or loons; they are very normal yet extraordinary individuals. They come from all walks of life: men, women, young and old.”