Living kidney donor numbers hit eight year low, say health officials
There has been a "worrying" decline in living kidney donation, health officials have said.
NHS Blood and Transplant (NHSBT) said the number of living kidney donors had dipped to an eight year low.
Living donation occurs when someone donates one of their organs, usually a kidney, to someone in need.
While this sort of organ donation is usually to a friend or family, it can also include donating a kidney to a stranger, also known as altruistic donation.
There were 990 living kidney donors during 2017, a 10% decline on the highest ever year, 2013, and the lowest figure since 2009, NHSBT said.
Altruistic kidney donation numbers have reduced from a high of 107 in 2013 to 87 in 2017, according to NHSBT, which released the figures to mark World Kidney Day.
The health body responsible for organ transplantation said that last year, 261 people died waiting for a kidney transplant.
It said the decline was concerning because living donation accounted for a third of all kidney transplants.
NHSBT is appealing to people to consider donation while they are still alive.
Jade Carr received a kidney transplant from an anonymous altruistic donor last summer after four years on and off the waiting list.
The 24-year-old from Widnes, Cheshire, said: "At times there never seemed to be a light at the end of the tunnel and the waiting was going on forever.
"A lot of people don't get their transplant and too many people die every day while waiting.
"There was always that thought that I might not get one.
"I have been given my whole life back. I now have a future to look forward to with my boyfriend and family that I have desperately longed for.
"For someone to be an organ donor is incredible but to donate an organ while you are still alive is the ultimate sacrifice and the most inspirational act anyone can do.
"There are not enough words to express how grateful I am to my donor."
Lisa Burnapp, NHS Blood and Transplant's lead nurse for kidney donation, said: "Last year, 261 people died waiting for a kidney transplant, and many of those lives could have been saved through increased living kidney donation.
"Living donation has been a major success story for the UK, with one in three patients receiving a kidney transplant from a living donor, so this decline is worrying.
"We are investigating the causes and working closely with the clinical community, NHS England and Health Departments in all four UK countries to reverse the trend.
"Anonymous altruistic donations are especially important because they can start transplant chains.
"It's no coincidence that the high figures for 2013 came when altruistic donation was at its highest ever level."
There are currently 6,298 people on the transplant waiting list, including 4,960 people waiting for a kidney.