In a new publicity drive NHS Blood and Transplant has announced that it has reached the milestone of 500 people in the UK – and Isle of Man – who have donated a kidney to a stranger as a live donor in the 10 years since the law first allowed it.
An Onchan man has given one of his kidneys to a stranger.
Father-of-three Scott St John, 46, donated the organ in 2014 and around Christmas time received a letter from the grateful recipient.
The procedure Scott underwent is known as non-directed (altruistic) living kidney donation.
Scott works at Noble’s Hospital, Isle of Man, in the operating theatre as a hospital operating department practitioner.
He moved to the island 14 years ago after training in London.
Telling iomtoday how he came to his decision to donate a kidney, he said: ‘Working in the operating theatre I have seen how relatively simple giving a kidney is and the huge benefits to the patients receiving it.
‘We have two kidneys so we can spare one. People are dying every year waiting for transplants.
‘If I could do it again I would.
‘Money can buy you lots of things but nothing’s more important than your health.’
Scott went on to explain how the operation took five hours at the Royal Liverpool University Hospital where he spent two days.
‘I went in for the operation in Liverpool on a Monday and was back on the island by the Wednesday,’ he said.
‘There are currently more than 5,000 people waiting for a kidney in the UK and around 300 people needlessly die each year in need of one.
‘Donating a kidney was the easiest and most rewarding thing I have ever done.’
Any healthy adult can volunteer to be assessed as a living donor and a kidney from a living donor is the best treatment option for most patients with kidney disease.
All correspondence is through the transplant organisations so you may never find out who received your kidney unless the recepient chooses to contact you, as they did in Scott’s case.
Bob Wiggins, chair of UK charity Give a Kidney said: ‘We’re encouraging everyone to consider if you could share your spare.
‘Many people still don’t know that any healthy adult can volunteer as a living donor. As a result of people like Scott, many hundreds of lives have been changed for the better.
‘Not only that but together this group has already saved the NHS tens of millions of pounds over the cost of keeping the recipients of their kidneys on dialysis treatment.’
Lisa Burnapp, lead nurse for Living Donation at NHS Blood and Transport, said: ‘Hundreds of people have had their lives saved and transformed in reaching this milestone over the past decade, thanks to the incredible generosity of these donors.’
Living kidney donation has been taking place in the UK since the 1960s.
It is a highly successful form of transplantation carried out at NHS hospitals and regulated by the Human Tissue Authority.
Until September 2006 living donation was limited to direct exchanges between family members and friends. Changes in the law in that year – through the Human Tissue Act – allowed the introduction of donor sharing scheme and non-directed altruistic donation.
Hospitals and the Human Tissue Authority carefully assess all donors and donation only goes ahead if it is safe to do so.
There is a small risk to donors. Living donation is well regulated and potential donors are thoroughly screened.
During 2015/16, 282 people died while on the active or suspended waiting lists while waiting for a kidney, or kidney and pancreas transplant.
People wishing to consider giving the gift of a kidney as a living donor can find out more at www.giveakidney.org
To register to donate your organs after your death visit www.organdonation.nhs.uk