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162% growth in number of UK patients waiting for a heart transplant

Friday 8th December 2017
There are more patients than ever on the UKs heart transplant list, new statistics reveal. Image credit: tcly via iStock
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The number of people on the transplant list waiting for a new heart in the UK has increased significantly over the past few years, new figures reveal.

Currently, there are around 250 people on the country's heart transplant list, which marks an increase of 162 per cent since 2008. This therefore indicates an urgent need for more people to register as organ donors, as this will increase the likelihood of a suitable match being found for patients.

These statistics come from NHS Blood and Transplant, which is calling for more people to join the donor register so that their organs can be donated to people who need them when they die.

The figures were published last week to coincide with the 50th anniversary of the first heart transplant, which was successfully carried out in South Africa in 1967.

To mark the occasion, the British Heart Foundation (BHF) is calling on people in the UK to speak to their loved ones about their wishes for their body after they die. The charity carried out research that found half of adults haven't ever talked to anyone about their thoughts on organ donation, yet eight in ten say they would like to donate theirs after they die.

However, because relatives aren't always aware of these wishes, more than half refuse to let their loved one's organs be donated, which is causing a significant gap in the number of available organs to the number of patients on the transplant list.

Simon Gillespie, chief executive of the BHF, commented: "Heart transplants can provide a lifeline for people with irreversibly diseased or damaged hearts.

"But this is not enough. We need to give those waiting for a new heart the best chance of actually receiving a healthy organ. This will only happen if we start the conversations with our loved ones so that, if the situation arises, they will be able to honour our wishes and save a life."

Written by Mathew Horton

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