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Number waiting for heart transplant increases by 24% this Christmas

26 December 2017 11:40

There are 298 people waiting for a new heart this Christmas

There are 298 people waiting for a new heart this Christmas

More people are waiting for the "ultimate gift" of a heart transplant, with the donor list increasing by almost a quarter since last Christmas.

The waiting list for a heart transplant has risen by 24% since the same time last year, from 240 people to 298 people.

The list includes 33 children who will spend the festive period seriously ill.

Birmingham student Jim Lynskey, 22, suffered a meningitis virus infection in his heart when he was a child, causing it it to fail.

He says: "I can't receive a transplant this Christmas but there are around 300 people on the heart transplant waiting list who desperately need that ultimate gift. I really want everyone to tell their families, 'I want to save lives by donating'."

Organ donor plea

In light of the increase, NHS Blood and Transplant are urging people to sign up to become an organ donor.

Sally Johnson, NHS Blood and Transplant director of organ donation and transplantation, said: "Hundreds of people are spending Christmas waiting for a call that might never come. Their families will be spending the festive period living with fear and uncertainty.

"We desperately need more people to agree to donation to help with the number of people waiting for hearts and organs of every kind."

'Opting out'

A heart transplant is the absolute last hope for most patients, and those who do receive a new heart live around 14 years longer on average, with some living an extra 30 years.

In October, the Government announced that it will be launching a consultation on whether the UK should adopt an "opt out" system to organ donation.

This means it will be presumed that an individual wishes to donate their organs after their death, unless they have given specific instruction not to do so.

Ms Johnson added: "Whatever the outcome of the Opt Out consultation, if you support organ donation, please act today.

"Tell your family you want to donate and join the NHS Organ Donor Register."

Transplant patients can enjoy a full and active lifestyle with overseas trips and holidays abroad, by talking out medical travel insurance.