Organ transplant levels sustained across area despite pandemic

A report from NHS Blood and Transplant shows that 232 people in the East Midlands had their lives saved by an organ transplant, despite the strains that Covid-19 put on the NHS over the last year.

Saturday, 17th July 2021, 10:00 am

In total, 3,391 people in the UK had their lives saved thanks to 1,180 people donating their organs after death.

The Organ and Tissue Donation and Transplantation Annual Activity Report 2020/21 shows that levels were sustained, despite at the pandemic, at 75 per cent of normal deceased donation activity and around 80 per cent of normal transplant activity across the UK, which is testament to the strong foundation of altruism from families, support for donation across the UK and the dedication of clinical teams.

The number of patients registered on the active waiting list for a transplant in East Midlands fell to 303 at the end of March 2021.

Nottinghamshire's Stephen Papp recovering after his heart transplant.
Nottinghamshire's Stephen Papp recovering after his heart transplant.

However, this does not fully reflect the number of people who need an organ transplant. Many patients were removed from the transplant list or transplant programmes closed during the peak of the pandemic as it was riskier to carry out transplants and NHS resources were under extra pressure.

John Forsythe, medical director of organ and tissue donation and transplantation, at NHS Blood and Transplant, said: “This past year has been completely unprecedented in the history of the NHS, so the fact that 232 people in the East Midlands received an organ transplant is amazing.”

Nottinghamshire’s Stephen Papp is very active and sporty and has always worked in the fitness industry. Up until three years ago he hadn’t had any health problems. Then one day at the gym, Stephen had chest pains and thought he was having a heart attack. The father of four was rushed to hospital where he was diagnosed with dilated cardiomyopathy. Days later in April 2018 he was fitted with a Left Ventricular Assist Device as his heart was failing.

In 2020 he was told the right hand side of his heart was struggling and in June he was admitted to hospital to wait on the urgent heart transplant waiting list. In September last year, Stephen received a heart transplant and is already working hard to get back to all his physical activities as much as possible.

The 56-year-old says: “Being told I had a heart problem was a hard thing to swallow, it was a massive shock. I had a possible heart on my first day on the Jim Quick ward but they couldn’t use it.

“I had complications after my transplant, sepsis again and kidney problems and I spent two weeks in a coma. I was able to go home in November and I’ve kept going and building it up.”

John Forsythe continued: “We realise this has been a very worrying time for those patients who are waiting for a transplant and the families supporting those patients. We would like to reassure them that the recovery of organ donation and transplantation, both living and deceased, is well underway and deceased donation rates are back to pre-Covid levels thanks to the huge support of all those families who agree to donation and the clinical teams who work tirelessly to get the best outcome for patients.”