The waiting list for kidney transplant is increasing

On average, 1 in every 8 people in the UK develop Chronic Kidney Disease. Black, Asian and minority ethnic communities are five times more likely to develop a kidney disease than other groups. 

Around 250 people die every year waiting for a transplant. World kidney day was held last week. The aim was to draw public attention to the importance of maintaining a healthy lifestyle to protect the kidneys, the risks of developing kidney disease and the impact it has on patients.

According to kidney research UK, a charity that has been researching kidney diseases for 60 years, more than 5,000 people in the UK are waiting for a kidney, however only around 3,000 transplants are carried out every year. The charity has a mission to free lives from kidney disease and to do that they fund research that answers fundamental questions to the disease.

According to Peter Storey the Director of Communications at Kidney Research UK, the waiting lists for kidney transplants is increasing and there’s a decrease in the number of people making living donations.  Some people choose to donate altruistically to a stranger, but even that has noticed a decrease in the past few years.

CC creative commons

CC creative commons

People from certain ethnic and religious groups have some beliefs about organ donation and therefore less are prepared to donate. The charity is currently working with black minority people to spread awareness among their community about the importance of donations because black people make a third of organ transplants, but the level of people donating from these communities is very low compared to their need for transplant. The charity is researching the reasons behind the significant number of  black minority people affected by kidney diseases.

Transplanted kidneys last on average around 10 to 15 years. The charity are working hard to make transplanted kidneys work for a lifetime. A person with a  kidney transplanted 15 years ago will eventually start to get symptoms of kidney failure, so the patient is then  put on a waiting list to get another transplant and if they don’t then they go back to dialysis doing it 3 to 4 times a week. A patient can transplant a kidney more than once but the more transplants you have the more your immune system is activated because it sees a kidney as a foreign object so getting a match is challenging.

CC Steve Davis

CC Steve Davis John Campbell

Once the person undergoes a transplant they have to take immune suppression drugs to stop the immune system from attacking the news kidney. The treatment has its side effect because if you are taking medicine to reduce the immunity then you are very likely to catch a flu or other disease. Another risk is higher risk of skin cancer so patients that have done transplants have to be very careful in the sun to make sure they don’t get skin cancer.

In Wales the law presumes that organs will be donated unless people opt out. But in the rest of the UK, there is a large disparity between the number of people who support organ donation and who actually register to it. Outside Wales more than 90% of people say they support organ donation in opinion polls, but less than one-third are registered donors. If you are prepared to be an organ donor you have to register and have a card that says you are an organ donor.  You can register to that when doing a driver license or online through kidney research UK.

Life on dialysis is difficult, therefore receiving a kidney allows the recipient to return to a normal life without affecting the donor’s life expectancy.

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