Donated kidneys are allocated to patients according to a number of factors including their waiting time for a transplant and the degree of tissue type match with the donor.
Tissue matching involves analysing blood and cell samples from the patient and the donor to identify the extent to which there are similarities between special classes of protein.
Tissue matching is particularly important in children as they may require more than one kidney transplant during their lifetime and a good match the first time will mean less difficulty in finding a suitable donor in the future. Children are therefore given high priority for well-matched kidneys.
All kidneys from deceased heartbeating donors are allocated according to a national system. This is based on five tiers:
Within Tiers A and B, children are prioritised according to their waiting time. In the remaining Tiers, patients are prioritised according to a points score, whereby organs are allocated to the patients with the highest number of points. The score for an individual patient is based on a number of factors:
"One can only imagine how restricted life is for someone waiting for a transplant. Should I die I would like to think my organs could transform someone's quality of life."
Hayley Jones, 23
Mortgage clerk and keen horsewoman