BBC Two’s Liverpool based Hospital show prompts surge in organ donor sign-ups

We have all been glued tour screens over the past few Thursday’s as the light has been shone nationwide on the incredible work that takes place in Liverpool’s hospitals.

More than 1,300 people signed up to the organ donor register following last night’s episode on BBC Two.

NHS Blood and Transplant said it saw a surge in interest during and after Thursday night’s show.

The episode followed patients in two Liverpool hospitals, including some waiting for transplants and a pregnant mother who wanted to donate tissues from one of her twins who would die shortly after birth.

A total of 1,391 people signed up as organ donors between 9pm and 11pm on Thursday evening, compared with 60 in the same period on Wednesday, NHSBT said.

Dan Ridgeway

For consultant transplant surgeon Dan Ridgway, his patients are his number one priority. Despite the rising numbers of patients at the Sir Peter Medawar Renal Transplant Unit at the Royal, the balance the team keep between the numbers of kidney transplants they carry out and excellent patient care is unerring.

“As a renal transplant unit we cover 3.5 million people. We carry out around 130 kidney transplants per year, which is twice the number of transplants compared to when the unit first opened on the Royal site 20 years ago. As of last weekend, we had carried out 106 transplants since April 2018, which is already ahead of the previous year. But it’s not all about numbers; it’s about looking after the patients well. Everyone here has a real vested interest in our patients. It’s a team effort.”

“Looking at the number of patients, waiting list times and types of kidney transplant we do – we’ve pretty much got it right. We have a small waiting list due to regular turn over – if you get a kidney transplant here in Liverpool you generally get it in half the average national waiting time. On average it’s 3 years, here it’s 18 months,” said Dan, who joined the unit in 2012. Hailing from Yorkshire, he trained in Leicester before going to Leeds and working in various trusts around the North.”

Liverpool is one of 24 kidney transplant centres in the UK. On average the unit carries out a third of transplants from living donors and two thirds from deceased donors. From a deceased donor, 95% of kidneys will last 1 year, with 89% lasting 5 years. A kidney from a living donor has a 97% chance of lasting a year, and 89% for 5 years. Mortality rates are generally lower in the long term if a patient has received a kidney from a living donor and typically, a kidney from a living donor will function more quickly and last longer than deceased.

Andrea Ttofa, head of organ donation marketing for NHSBT, said: “We’re delighted that BBC Hospital inspired so many people to sign up as organ donors.

“We know personal stories of donation and transplantation are extremely powerful and prompt people to sign up to save lives.

“We would urge everyone to tell their family they want to be an organ donor to ensure their family honour this decision.

“Around 6,000 people in the UK are currently waiting for a transplant and there are many more who would benefit from a transplant.

“Last year, more than 400 people died in the UK waiting for a transplant.”

The Government has indicated that an opt-out system of organ donation is expected to be in place in England by April 2020.

The changes will mean that everyone is considered a potential donor unless they have specified that they do not wish to donate their organs.

Have you been watching Hospital? Let us know your take on the show on Twitter and Facebook and you can watch all episodes so far on BBC Iplayer here

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