A desperate mum is calling for an urgent enquiry into the UK’s “poor” organ transplant system in a bid to save her dying daughter’s life.
Cathy Meredith has spent years campaigning for better health care for her 29-year-old daughter, Sarah, who suffers from cystic fibrosis.
Seriously ill Sarah has been on the organ donor list for the past 10 months waiting for a life-saving liver transplant.
But the chances of her receiving one in time are slim as the list grows ever longer and the number of organ donations drops.
Cathy, of Totnes, has written to the government’s Health Select Committee calling for action to improve the UK’s donor and transplant system.
“My daughter’s life is on a time limit,” she wrote.
“She needs a liver, is seriously ill and has waited 10 months.
“There are around 6,300 on the active transplant list and we are told there are fewer transplants taking place.
“There are 68,000 UK residents being treated for kidney failure and thousands are on dialysis – some for well over 20 years.
“Those on transplant lists not only require expensive medical interventions and consultant time, they also need carers and benefits during their miserable existence.
“Transplantation returns the terminally ill to normal life and they can go back to work and pay taxes.”
Cathy told the select committee: “We have the fifth largest economy in the world and yet are 10th among EU countries when it comes to transplant performance.
“It is time to stop hiding behind a lack of donor organs.
“Over the last 30 years I have campaigned on the streets and spoken with thousands of people – all very willing to donate.
“If it does not happen, it is down to poor handling of the situation.”
Cathy said the Spanish system has saved thousands lives and hundreds of millions of euros since it was introduced in 1989.
Spain has 32 liver transplant centres compared to the UK’s seven.
There are 600 patients on the liver transplant waiting list in the UK, yet the country is performing less than two liver transplants per day, said Cathy.
She wrote: “When Spain changed their infrastructure, they suddenly found that refusal rte was very low indeed.
“Also, looking at the statistics, they transplant many who would not make it onto the list in the UK.”
Cathy said the Spanish system is successful because specially trained intensive care doctors ensure donation happens when a patient dies in conditions that allow it.
The Spanish model also makes it a priority to identify donation opportunities not only in intensive care units, but also in emergency departments and hospital wards.
She explained: “In the UK we depend upon ‘someone’ in ICU calling in a specialist organ donation nurse – normally from outside the hospital.
“The relatives, often already grieving, then have to wait for the specialist nurse to arrive and then drag through a lengthy consent form.
“That the procedure takes too long is one of the reasons for denying consent.
“It is not difficult to see why our consent rates are so much lower.”
Cathy called for an “urgent enquiry followed by commitment to resolve the situation.”
“I look forward to hearing from you in the near future,” she wrote.
“My daughter’s life is on a time limit.”
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