Donor organs should no longer go to the nearest in-need patient, an official report has recommended.
Instead, specialised organ centres across the country will be responsible for preserving, repairing and matching an organ with the most needy individual on the transplant register, irrespective of location.
There are about 7,000 patients on the active transplant list and every day, on average, at least one person dies waiting for an organ.
All adults are automatically enrolled as organ donors unless a person chooses to opt out, which has been the case since May 2020.
Now an official report commissioned by the Department for Health and Social Care and headed up by Prof Stephen Powis, the national medical director for England, has recommended 12 changes to further improve donation.
Neil O’Brien, Health Minister, told The Telegraph that the dozen recommendations will allow people to know that donated organs “are being used in the best possible way to save lives”.
Match with a recipient
“To donate an organ is to give the gift of life,” he said. “Daily Telegraph readers will be well aware of the crucial role that transplants so often play in surgery today. This newspaper has led the way in reporting on the advances over recent years in this pioneering field of medical science.
“It is vital that once organs are received they are not wasted. Every effort must be made to match them with a recipient within a system run as efficiently and as sensitively as possible.”
Among the recommendations – which have been backed by the Government and are expected to be implemented in the coming weeks – is equal access to organ donation services “irrespective of personal circumstances, including ethnicity, geography, socio-economic status or sex”.
Specialised organ centres
Currently there is a tendency for newly available organs that are fit for donation to be given to the person on the transplant register who is closest geographically.
The report hopes to end this and to give it to the person most in need, no matter where they are in Britain.
One way in which organs will be sent around the country to those in need, despite a small time frame while they are still fresh, is to set up specialised organ centres.
They will follow the surgical hub template already used by the NHS and expertise and technology will be concentrated into specific areas to optimise organ matching.
“National multi-organ centres for assessment and repair will increase the opportunities to bring new techniques into everyday clinical practice, maximising the number and quality of organs available for transplant,” Prof Sir Stephen said.
Mr O’Brien said: “We want to see waiting lists for transplants come down, we want to see more organs donated and we want those organs matched and used in the best possible way to save the most lives.”
“The work we have done will help achieve these goals and this report is a big step. I look forward to seeing these recommendations implemented.”