Surgeon in plea for organ donors

A SENIOR surgeon has made an appeal for more organ donors to ease what he said was a 'desperate situation'. Maurice Slapak made his plea as nearly 800 competitors were gathering in Portsmouth for the British Transplant Games, due to start this week.

Mr Slapak, who has carried out more than 1,000 kidney transplant operations, said the success rate had never been higher, but the number of operations being performed was dropping because of the lack of donor organs.

'The list of patients living a miserable existence - and some facing certain death - while they wait for a suitable organ is still growing every year,' he said.

Mr Slapak, who retires next year after 20 years as senior transplant surgeon at the Wessex Regional Transplant Unit, is chairman of the organising committee for the Games, which aim to show people can lead full and active lives after a transplant. Competitors take part in a number of sports, including a mini marathon, cycling, swimming and athletic events.

He said more effective ways of identifying potential donors should be found, including a national computer database which would speed up the process of identifying potential donors.

'It now looks as though the Government may at last be seeing the benefits of a national registration scheme, and an announcement could well be expected in the next few months,' he said.

Britain still lagged a long way behind the US and the rest of Europe in carrying out kidney transplants from a living related donor, where the success rate is extremely high.

Each year more than 2,600 kidney, heart, lung, liver and pancreas transplant operations are carried out in the UK. But there are 5,641 people currently waiting for organ transplants, of whom 89 per cent are waiting for kidney transplants.