More than 900 children in the UK have endured the wait for a kidney transplant in the last 10 years and 16 patients aged under 18 have died before receiving the transplant they desperately needed, NHS Blood and Transplant has revealed*.
The figures have been released today (Thursday 10 March 2016) to coincide with World Kidney Day, which this year focuses on children and kidney disease. NHS Blood and Transplant is highlighting the figures to show that there are children with kidney disease who rely on people donating their organs to save their lives.
One child who knows what it is like to wait for a kidney transplant is 10-year-old Matthew Pietrzyk who last month underwent his 21st operation as he endures his ninth year waiting for a life-saving transplant.
Mum Nicola said: "This is now the ninth year for Mathew waiting for a transplant. His life at the moment is so much about medicines and machines, diet restrictions and fluid restrictions. Matthew copes so well and we're incredibly proud of him. We try to keep life as normal as possible but there are times when it can be very difficult because he's just not free to do the things his friends and brothers can. Matthew is absolutely mad about football but unfortunately he can't enjoy playing as he'd love to be able to do. A transplant would change Mathew's life and it would change life for our family. But it's not just about us, there are thousands of people who need a transplant and are going through what we are. Organ donation is an amazing gift. We need more people to understand organ donation and join the NHS Organ Donor Register."
On average someone under 18 waits nearly a year, 316 days, for a deceased donor kidney transplant but the wait can be a lot longer**. And some children never get the donor organ they need. Children can benefit from organ transplants from adult donors.
Sally Johnson, NHS Blood and Transplant Director of Organ Donation and Transplantation said: “It is difficult for all patients waiting for a transplant, but it can be particularly hard for children and their families. Sadly Matthew is not alone and there are currently 65 children on the UK Transplant waiting list for a kidney ***.
“Patients waiting for kidney transplants make up the majority of people waiting for an organ. So on World Kidney Day we want to draw attention to the need for more people to donate their organs to help save and transform their lives.
“With dozens of children, as well as thousands of adults, in desperate need of a kidney transplant, and many others desperately waiting for other organs too, we need people to tell their loved ones they want to be an organ donor and record their decision on the NHS Organ Donor Register.”
To join the NHS Organ Donor Register go to organdonation.nhs.uk or call 0300 123 23 23.
Notes to editors
*Figures for the period April 2005-March 2015
** The average waiting times for organs are published annually in the Organ Donation and Transplantation Activity Report. https://www.organdonation.nhs.uk/supporting-my-decision/statistics-about-organ-donation/transplant-activity-report/ Figures in this release cover the average waiting times for those registered on the list for a kidney transplant between 1 April 2008 and 31 March 2012
***Figures as at 25 February 2016