Organ donation and transplantation in the UK-the last decade: a report from the UK national transplant registry

Transplantation. 2014 Jan 15;97 Suppl 1:S1-S27. doi: 10.1097/01.TP.0000438215.16737.68.


Over the decade between 2003 and 2012, the UK has seen major changes in how organ donation and transplantation is delivered. The number of deceased organ donors has increased from 709 (12.0 per million population [pmp]) to 1,164 (18.3 pmp); this increase has been predominantly a result of an increase in donors after circulatory death (DCD) (from 1.1 pmp to 7.9 pmp) while the numbers of donors after brain death (DBD) has remained broadly stable (around 10.5 pmp). The donor population has become older (from 14% 60 years or over to 35%) and heavier (from 14% with body mass index >=30 kg/m2 to 23%). Despite these changes in demographic factors, the number of organs retrieved from DBD donors has risen from a mean of 3.6 to 4.0 per donor and for DCD donors from 2.2 to 2.6. The number of transplants in adults in 2012 was 2,709 (967 DBD, 708 DCD, and 1,034 living) for kidney alone, 246 pancreas (including 172 kidney and pancreas), 792 (611 DBD, 142 DCD, 36 living, and 3 domino) for liver, 136 for heart only, and 179 (145 DBD and 34 DCD) for lung only. Median waiting times to transplant for adult patients were 1,167, 339, 141, 293, and 311 days, respectively. The proportion of adult non-urgent registrants in 2009 (2007 for kidneys) who were removed from the waiting list or died awaiting a graft within 1 year was 3% for kidneys, 6% for pancreas, 19% for liver, 27% for heart, and 24% for lung. Outcomes after solid organ transplants are improving; for adult patients grafted between 2003 and 2005, 5-year graft survival for kidney is 84% (DBD), 87% (DCD), and 92% (living donor), for simultaneous kidney and pancreas 72%, and for pancreas alone 50% (DBD). Five-year patient survival for liver is 77% (DBD) and 68% (DCD), heart 67%, and lung 52% (DBD). Although rates of organ donation and transplantation have increased in the UK, this has been almost solely because of a rise in DCD donation. Although donor age and weight is increasing, graft survival has generally improved. Despite a recent fall in the number of patients on the transplant waiting list, there remains a significant gap between the need for transplantation and the number of organs available from deceased and living donors. The implementation of a new strategy following the recommendations of the Organ Donation Task Force in 2008 has had a major impact in bringing together clinicians involved in both organ donation and transplantation, and these changes and clinical enthusiasm have been instrumental in achieving success. With an emphasis on the need to increase the family consent rate for organ donation, which has failed to show any improvement over the last 5 years, a new UK strategy for organ donation and transplantation, introduced in 2013, will further increase organ transplantation in the UK.

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Organ Transplantation / statistics & numerical data*
  • Registries*
  • Tissue and Organ Procurement / statistics & numerical data*
  • Treatment Outcome
  • United Kingdom / epidemiology
  • Waiting Lists