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Families continue to save and improve lives through deceased organ donation despite pandemic

New figures published today by NHS Blood and Transplant (NHSBT) show that in the last year (2020/21) 1,180 people in the UK donated their organs after they died, saving or improving the lives of 3,391 transplant recipients and giving hope to the thousands of patients still waiting.

NHSBT’s annual Transplant Activity Report shows deceased organ donation fell last year due to the pandemic where Covid-19 had a wide-reaching impact across the whole NHS and every aspect of UK society.

Despite this, the report reveals a steady increase in support for organ donation around the country, with 69% of families giving their consent when asked about organ donation.

Key liver statistics

In 2020-2021:

  • In total (adults and children) there were 870 deceased liver donors
  • On average, adult patients wait 72 days for a transplant while paediatric patients wait an average of 74 days.
  • There were 33 children active on the transplant list for liver (as at 31 March 2021)
  • 77 paediatric liver transplants took place
  • 18 paediatric living donor liver transplants took place

The law around organ donation in England changed to an opt out system in May last year, and it is hoped public support for organ donation will continue to build.

As many of you know, organ donation remains a most precious gift. Adults covered by the new law change still have a choice about whether or not they want to donate, and families are still involved before organ donation goes ahead. This is why it is so important to discuss your views about organ donation with family and friends.

The three paediatric liver units have been working very closely together to minimise the effect on paediatric transplantation. It is very humbling to see that this has led to paediatric transplant services being able to sustain levels of activity throughout this period. For adult transplantation services, recovery of organ donation and transplantation, both living and deceased, is well underway.

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

To find out more about organ donation, the law change, or to opt in or out, visit: or call the dedicated advice line on 0300 303 2094

View the full press release here.

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