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Increased public support for organ donation despite pandemic

New figures published today by NHS Blood and Transplant (NHSBT) show that last year (2019/20) 1,580 people in the UK donated their organs after they died; saving or improving the lives of 3,760 transplant recipients and giving hope to the thousands of patients still waiting.

Despite the small decrease from last year, this is particularly remarkable given that March 2020 was substantially affected by the coronavirus pandemic impacting organ donation activity.  Furthermore, the overall consent/authorisation rate for organ donation has continued to rise over the last year from 67% to 68%. In the peak of the crisis, consent rate was even higher at 74.5% (March 2020).

Key liver statistics

Due to the impact of the pandemic, figures have been recorded differently to ensure they are comparable with previous years. This is explained fully within the published report.

In 2019-2020:

  • 1,126 organ donors donated their liver for transplant
  • There were 37 children active on the transplant list for liver (*as at 29 February 2020)
  • 77 paediatric liver transplants took place
  • 12 paediatric living donor liver transplants took place

Impact of the pandemic

In March there was a sharp reduction in activity with a decline in deceased donors and the number of transplants taking place. This was due to concerns for patient safety e.g. risk versus benefit for immunosuppressed transplant recipients and NHS resources being reallocated to deal with the crisis. We know it has been and continues to be a difficult time for those children and young people waiting for a transplant and for their families. NHS Blood and Transplant would like to reassure those affected that the recovery of donation and transplantation is well underway and the majority of transplant units have reopened.

Max and Keira’s Law – the Organ Donation (Deemed Consent) Act

It has been a year to remember but a positive step forward was the move to an opt-out system for organ donation in England which came into place on 20th May. It is important to remember, that despite the change in the law, it is still your choice. CLDF have been sharing a number of communications about this over the last year and will continue to support the campaign. We look forward to sharing more news about Scotland’s own deemed authorisation legislation in the Spring of 2021.

For further details of the Organ Donation and Transplantation Activity Report click here.

*The figure for the end of February 2020 is used as during the COVID-19 pandemic, transplant patients and programmes have been suspended, meaning the waiting list figures do not accurately reflect the waiting list.

It is quick and easy to register your decision on the NHS Organ Donor Register. Call 0300 123 23 23 or visit

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