BHF call for more heart donors during National Transplant Week

9 September 2015        

An image of surgeons carrying out heart surgery

We're urging people to sign-up to the organ donation register and discuss their wishes with their loved ones, as the latest statistics show that nearly 40 people died while waiting for a heart transplant between April 2014 and March 2015.

For many critically ill heart patients, a transplant can offer the best chance of long term survival. But there is a desperate shortage of registered donors. Only 183 heart transplants were carried out in the UK last year - a drop of 10 per cent from the previous year. 38 heart patients died while they were on the waiting list. 

The number of patients requiring an urgent heart transplant has nearly doubled since 2010. Statistics also show that 289 people are currently waiting for a heart or a heart or lung transplant.

Louise McLellan (45) from Durham was born with a complex congenital heart condition that often left her out of breath and unable to walk more than half a mile. After two major open heart operations, she suffered from multi-organ failure in 2013 and she was put on the emergency transplant list. In less than two years, she is now able to run three times a week, swim and cycle with her family.  Since her transplant Louise has been given a second chance at life and has taken part in the Transplant Games and is an active runner. This weekend she’ll be at the starting line for the Great North Run, something that would have been unthinkable before her transplant.

We want to see an increase in the rate of organ donation, so fewer families have to go through the devastating loss of a loved one who died waiting for a heart transplant. That’s why we're calling for a soft ‘opt-out’ system to be introduced across the UK, where it is assumed that someone is happy to be an organ donor, unless they or their family say otherwise.

National Transplant Week (7-13 September) is the perfect opportunity to sign up and put that good intention into action.

Mike Hobday, Director of Policy at the British Heart Foundation, said: “Tragically the number of heart donors has not kept pace with the number of people waiting for a heart transplant. We must take a fresh approach to help increase the number of organ donors and ensure more people get the transplant they so desperately need. That’s why we’re calling for the rest of the UK to follow Wales’ lead and change the law to implement a soft ‘opt-out’ system of organ donation. This would mean everyone is assumed to want to donate their organs unless they or their family say otherwise.”

If you wish to become a donor, use this opportunity to register today and give someone in need the gift of life. During National Transplant Week you can also talk about organ donation on twitter using the hashtag #yesIdonate

You can read more about the BHF’s call for soft opt-out on our organ donation page.