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Organ donation in the United Kingdom (UK) - Statistics & Facts

Organ donation is the act of donating organs to another individual either whilst living or after death. Until recently, the organ donation system in the United Kingdom was voluntary, meaning consent was not presumed. The proportion of the population ‘opting-in’ to the organ donation register has gradually increased, to 38 percent of the UK population in the period 2018/19.

The law surrounding organ donation consent is different across the countries of the UK. In Wales there already is ‘deemed consent’ where a person is considered an organ donor unless they opt out. Similar ‘opt out’ legislation should come into force in England and Scotland during 2020, while the law in Northern Ireland will stay as an ‘opt in’ process. The number of individuals on the organ donation register in the UK increased to over 25 million in 2019. In the UK, individuals must indicate whether they want to be on the organ donation register when applying for a driver’s license, this source of registration accounts for almost 50 percent of all organ donation registrations.

The number of organ transplantations have significantly increased over recent years to almost four thousand in 2018/19. There are approximately 7.3 thousand potential donors on the register, of which only 5.8 thousand are considered to be eligible donors. The average number of organs retrieved per adult donor amounts to 3.2 organs across the UK. In contrast, a paediatric donor can donate up to 4.1 organs on average.

Kidneys top the list as the most transplanted organ at approximately 55 kidneys transplanted per million population. As it stands, there are over nine thousand patients active on the kidney donation waiting list. Despite the growing number of registrants on the organ transplant register, around 10.5 percent are not prepared to donate their corneas.

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Organ donation in the United Kingdom (UK)

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