20 Sep 2014

Work to boost kidney transplants starts

3:19 pm on 20 September 2014

The new National Renal Transplantation Service says extra help is on the way for those patients seeking a live donor for a kidney transplant.

hospital bed

Just 110 kidney transplant operations are carried out each year - fewer than needed to meet demand. Photo: Photo NZ

Medical specialists estimate about 600 people with serious kidney disease are awaiting a transplant from a live or deceased donor. However, just 110 of the operations are done a year, because of a shortage of donor organs.

Boosting live donation in particular is the goal of the service, which was announced in July and has just had its first meeting.

Its clinical head, Nick Cross, said donor liaison co-ordinators would be appointed at up to 11 district health boards.

He said they would help patients who often find it difficult to approach others about organ donation.

"At the moment, they need to go out there themselves and put the information out about what it would mean to be a kidney donor. We know that some people find that quite difficult. We think that members of their family and social circle would want to help them if they knew what the information was."

An extra 10 live kidney donor transplants a year on average is the goal and Dr Cross said the donor liaison co-ordinators would help achieve it.

"What we're expecting is that's going to increase the pressure on us a little bit - that's going to hopefully see that there will be people coming forward - and then the challenge will be actually assessing them, and making sure we fully inform them what they would be getting themselves into," he said.

"Hopefully that will translate to more successful transplants down the line."

He said donor liaison co-ordinators have boosted transplantation rates in parts of Europe and the United States.

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