Opinion: Jim Rae, Beaver Close, Horsham

There are now about 10,000 persons awaiting some form of transplant. Of those, some 8,700 are either active or active but temporarily suspended on the kidney transplant waiting list – one of those being my wife, Shirley.

In 2011 alone, 511 people died waiting for a transplant, 312 of them were kidney patients. The statistic concerning those in need of a kidney transplant is 111 patients per million (ppm). We are transplanting at less than half that number – about 43 ppm. This includes living/directed donation.

The median wait for a kidney transplant is 1,153 days (three years, two months). This number has increased by about 50 per cent in less than a decade. At the time of writing, Shirley has waited 3,187 days!

The latest government statistic highlights that 35 per cent of donors’ wishes are overruled by families and loved ones at the point of death. Would-be donations go to the grave or crematorium, because the law as it stands offers hospitals no legal protection to carry out the donors’ final wishes.

Back in 2007-8, the government pledged to double transplantation by the end of 2013. Since 2008 (through to 2011), transplantation has been increased by a miserly 15 per cent – nowhere close to the rate required to meet that ‘pledge’, no matter how the Department of Health tries to spin the stats!

Shirley has waited nine years. In all those nine long, long years, transplantation has increased just 19 per cent. This includes a very significant increase in live/directed donation, which bypasses the majority of those who have been waiting for years and years.

Oh, and the kidney transplant waiting list. Has that decreased by a similar number? No, of course not. The kidney transplant waiting list has increased by 37 per cent. Yes, I truly believe we are in fact moving backwards.

Is the Organ Donor Register the panacea to our national tragedy? I believe increased donation/transplantation via an opt-out scheme would deliver very many more organs for transplantation. Nearly all of those currently on the kidney transplant waiting list would be transplanted. Oh, and a saving to you and me, the taxpayer, of £900 million annually – say the build of three new hospitals, one of which could be in Horsham.

Now you need to decide: Organ Donor Register or opt-out (presumed consent)? If you believe opt-out, you will need to convince the majority of MPs and the dreaded Department of Health. Good luck. I have been trying for the last seven years!

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