'Thousands have died' while waiting for organ transplant

More than 6,000 people have died while waiting for an organ transplant in the last decade, the NHS revealed as it launched a campaign to boost the number of UK residents on the organ donor register.

According to new NHS figures, nearly 49,000 people have waited for an organ transplant during that period and there are about 7,000 currently on the list.

Of those, almost one third have been waiting for more than two years and about 500 have been waiting for longer than five years.

NHS blood and transplant spokeswoman Sally Johnson said: "Statistically, more than one in 10 people on the waiting list will die before they get the transplant they need."

To launch the campaign, the NHS will screen a 14-hour film from 6am at Vue Piccadilly, which shows a day in the life of patient Simon Howell, 41, who was born with a serious kidney condition and requires a life-saving transplant.

Mr Howell, who has been on the waiting list for six years already, said: "Dialysis keeps me alive whilst I wait for a transplant; but that's all it does. I'm in limbo."

He described the process as "an endless wait with no ETA", because those at the top of the list change based on factors such as who is best matched to an available organ.

Ms Johnson said: "I'd ask you to imagine how you'd feel if someone close to you was waiting for a transplant; their whole life on hold, hoping someone will donate to save them."

The figures show the largest waiting list as of October was for kidneys - with 5,400 patients - followed by livers, lungs and hearts.

Information on the organ donor register can be found at organdonation.nhs.uk or by calling 0300 123 23 23.

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