Clearing the kidney transplant waiting list for could save the NHS £650m over five years, according to a new donor charity.
The sum was revealed as a YouGov poll showed that three million adults would consider donating one of their kidneys to a stranger who needed a transplant.
Last year, so-called “altruistic donors”, who do not know the people who will receive their organ, accounted for just 3 per cent of living donor kidney transplants.
Broadcaster Jon Snow launched an appeal for altruistic donors by new charity Give a Kidney - One’s Enough.
The presenter of Channel 4’s evening news programme said: “This is a very, very interesting and hugely important development.
“Nobody needs telling that the crisis in kidney donation is acute.”
About 300 people a year die in the UK waiting for a kidney transplant.
The average cost to the NHS of treating a patient in the final stages of kidney disease is £150,000 over five years and there are 6,526 people on the waiting list.
By contrast, the average cost of transplantation per patient over five years is £50,000.
This means every patient who receives a kidney transplant saves the NHS £100,000 over the first five years after the transplant.
Although 8 per cent of the UK population would consider donating a kidney to a stranger, just 88 have been carried out in the UK since 2007. Most living donor kidney transplants are still from friends or relatives.
UK law does not permit adults to sell their organs, but altruistic donation has been permitted since 2006.