Waiting list for heart transplants has more than DOUBLED in a decade as NHS figures reveal 313 patients are in need of the life-saving organ
- NHS Blood and Transplant said 313 people are waiting for a heart to become free
- Data shows there were 126 patients waiting for a heart transplant in March 2010
- Patients needing a heart transplant typically have to wait for nearly three years
Lyndsey Fitzpatrick, 34, has been waiting for a heart for almost three years
The waiting list for heart transplants has more than doubled in a decade, official figures have revealed.
NHS Blood and Transplant today said 313 are waiting for an organ to become free – a 130 per cent jump from a decade ago.
Patients needing a heart transplant typically have to wait nearly three years. Those on the urgent list can get one in around a month.
Anthony Clarkson, director of organ donation and transplantation at NHSBT, said: ‘We can save more lives if more organs are donated.’
But he added that the NHS ‘urgently’ needs more hearts from donors to help the hundreds of people desperately waiting for a transplant.
‘We want to help as many people as possible so we would urge everyone to think about organ donation and share your decision with your family,’ he said.
Figures from the NHS organisation show there were 126 patients waiting for a heart transplant on 31 March, 2010.
Data also show 21 patients died last year – and 201 in the last five years – before they could receive the heart transplant they desperately needed.
The warning comes ahead of the opt-out organ donation becoming law from 2020 after a Government bill was approved earlier this year.
The Queen gave royal assent for the bill, also known as Max and Keira’s law – named after a boy who received a heart transplant from a girl.
The change will mean all adults’ organs – including hearts – can be taken after they die unless they specifically tell the NHS otherwise.
Care minister Caroline Dinenage said: ‘Heart transplantation is truly a miracle of modern medicine, and has saved countless lives.
‘But as we celebrate 40 years since the UK’s first heart transplant, the number of people in need of a new heart keeps growing and tragically many will die waiting.
‘My priority as the minister overseeing organ donation is to ensure that no-one misses out on a second chance of life.’
John Maingay, of the British Heart Foundation, said: ‘Hundreds of people across the country are on the waiting list for a heart transplant at any one time.
‘And sadly not everyone will currently receive the transplant that they desperately need.
‘The introduction of Max and Keira’s Law in England and Scotland means we will switch to a soft opt out system, which will provide much needed hope for those on the heart transplant waiting list.
‘This is a significant legal change that makes it all the more important for everyone to let their closest relatives know what they would want to happen with their organs in the event of their death.
‘It is also vital that you make sure your decision is registered, so there is no confusion about what you want.
‘Letting people know your wishes for after you die could ultimately save the lives of others.’
THE 34-YEAR-OLD WHO HAS BEEN WAITING LIST THREE YEARS FOR A HEART TRANSPLANT
The 34-year-old, from the Wirral, has a series of heart conditions
Lyndsey Fitzpatrick tries to be optimistic – despite having been waiting almost three years for a heart transplant.
The 34-year-old, from the Wirral, has a series of heart conditions, which meant she needed open heart surgery aged three and a pacemaker, aged 10.
She has gone on to have three more pacemakers.
In 2015, her health started to deteriorate and in September 2016 she went on the waiting list for a heart transplant.
She said: ‘I have had health problems my whole life. Throughout my life I have struggled with my mobility, breathlessness and exhaustion on a daily basis. I have to use a wheelchair or mobility scooter when I’m out and about.
‘I try keep a happy, cheerful and optimistic state of mind throughout it all and enjoy my life even if I do have to take life at a slower pace and rest when needed.
‘People say to me “You look well” but I definitely don’t feel well, whatever well is. I guess I have just become good at concealing my illness on the outside but I struggle with it on a daily basis.’
Ms Fitzpatrick added: ‘From a young age my family and I have known that I would need a heart transplant but now nearly three years after going on the transplant list I’m still waiting for that all important phone call.
‘A call to say a match has been found for me, a call to say that I can start the next chapter of my life.
‘I know it is hard for people to talk about organ donation but for people like me and many others that are waiting for a heart that conversation could save our lives.
‘We are just kindly asking for families to talk about organ donation and decide if it is something they could agree to.’