The UK’s transplant waiting list will never be significantly reduced in size unless public attitudes towards organ donation change, according to a charity.
A survey revealed the majority of people in the UK are prepared to receive an organ, but not donate one. The survey was carried out by Usurv on behalf of Kidney Research UK.
It found that 87% of people in the UK would accept a transplant if told they needed one, whereas only one in three are on the organ donor register.
About 50,000 people in the UK require some form of ongoing treatment for kidney failure, of which about 7,000 are currently waiting for a kidney transplant, accounting for 90% of all patients on the NHS’s transplant waiting list.
Professor Tim Goodship, chairman of Kidney Research UK, said: “The ongoing shortage of organ donors in the UK is a problem which is acutely felt by renal patients. The average wait for a kidney transplant in the UK is 1,000 days.
“However, patients with complications or rare blood or tissue types can be forced to wait much longer, sometimes decades, and may never receive an organ.
“In light of the results from this survey, we would ask people to give greater consideration to joining the organ donor register. Your organs are of no use to you when you die, but could very well save someone else’s life.”
Researchers also asked people for their views of introducing presumed consent for organ donation, where individuals would have to opt-out of becoming organ donors, rather than sign up. Of those polled, 54% supported presumed consent, 18% were against and 27% were not sure.
Professor Goodship said: “The introduction of an opt-out approach to organ donation is a move that would be welcome by Kidney Research UK and something we have long campaigned for.”
The charity is also asking for people to make sure their families are aware of their wishes to avoid any complications after their death.