A new campaign launched today by NHS Blood and Transplant and partner charity, Give a Kidney, calls on people across the UK to consider transforming lives by donating a kidney to someone in need, be they a stranger, friend or loved one.
Less than half (48%) of adults surveyed* recently by NHS Blood and Transplant were aware of living kidney donation. However, when they were subsequently asked whether they would consider becoming a kidney donor, the majority (61%) said they would.
Of those who would consider donating, almost half (49%) would consider donating to a family member while 1 in 5 (22%) would consider donating to a friend and 1 in 7 (14%) to a stranger.
As part of the campaign, comedian Alex Smith and composer Philip Pope, have created a tongue-in-cheek song, called 'Kidney-shaped Love'. The light-hearted music video set in a working men's club plays on Valentine's verse but carries an underlying serious message, to encourage people to find out more about transforming a life through living donation:
Here we go again buying gifts
For partners, lovers, friends with benefits
A cheesy photo in a heart-shaped frame
Pink furry handcuffs engraved with their name
Red roses, teddy bears they're all so cliche
I've got a better gift to give this Valentine's Day
My feelings can no longer be denied
Here is something from deep inside
I'd give you my heart
But I'd have to be dead
And I'm still very much alive
So please have my kidney instead...
Currently, almost 5,000 people are waiting for a kidney in the UK. This is more than the total number of people waiting for any other organ combined.
While the majority of kidney transplant patients receive an organ from a deceased donor, living kidney donors make possible one third of all kidney transplants carried out across the UK. Currently there is a shortage of donors, which means many people do not get the life-transforming transplant they need.
Lisa Burnapp, Lead Nurse for Living Donation at NHS Blood and Transplant said:
"Across the UK, more than 250 patients died last year waiting for a kidney transplant, due to a shortage of people willing to donate after their death or during their lifetime. However, living donation is highly successful, and thousands of people have had their lives transformed thanks to people being willing to give a kidney whilst they are alive to a family member, friend or complete stranger. We hope our campaign will prompt people to go to our website to find out more about donating a kidney and that some will go on to express their interest and start the assessment process."
Someone who knows what it is like to receive the gift of a kidney, is Helen Byrne, from the Wirral. Helen received a kidney from her friend Carol Armitage in November 2016.
Helen says: "Before the transplant I had 5% kidney function. I returned home with 60%! The surgery meant I could do so many things I couldn't do before - from little things like drinking cola for the first time in 17 years, eating a banana, drinking Horlicks, putting a sprinkle of salt on a boiled egg. But also bigger things. Not falling asleep every time I sit down to watch the TV. Not going to hospital for dialysis. Not being a burden to my loved ones. I am so grateful that Carol was prepared to do this for me."
The average length of time someone waits for a kidney transplant is over 2.5 years. However, the average wait for some ethnic groups and people for whom it is more difficult to find a compatible transplant is longer.
A third of people currently waiting for a kidney transplant across the UK are from a black or Asian background. The best match will often come from a donor from the same ethnic background and, although many are successfully transplanted from white donors, there is a particular need for people from these communities to consider donating their organs, either in death or during their lifetime.
- To find out more about donating a kidney as a living donor to a family member, friend or stranger, or to watch the 'Kidney-shaped love' video, visit: bit.ly/2leECWO
- Help spread the campaign #ShareYourSpare
- To register your commitment to donating your organs after your death, visit www.organdonation.nhs.uk or call 0300 123 23 23. Please tell your family that you want to save lives as an organ donor and share your decision with your friends
To view the campaign music video, 'Kidney-shaped love' see: bit.ly/2leECWO
* Research conducted by Kantar Public. 1,099 interviews were conducted with adults (18+) in England. Fieldwork was conducted between 3rd and 5th January 2017.
For interviews with case studies and spokespeople, please contact Suzi Browne in the NHS Blood and Transplant press office on 01923 366844 or via firstname.lastname@example.org
The NHS Blood and Transplant press office can also be contacted on 01923 367600 or email@example.com
For out of hours enquiries please call NHS Blood and Transplant's on call press officer on 0117 969 2444.
Notes to Editors
NHS Blood and Transplant