"There's a myth that anyone who has a liver problem has brought it on themselves" This quote is from a Crohn's disease patient living with a blocked portal vein hoping for a liver transplant (Independent 31st Oct 2010)

Thursday, 31 March 2011

Reason to become a donor - No 1.

Three people die in the UK every day because not enough organs are donated.


  1. Fiona,

    Can you donate organs after having cancer?

    I *could* google this - but am so busy currently googling other stuff that I'm being lazy and asking you - coz you'll know the answer :-)


  2. At the moment the policy is the only potential donors to be refused are those with confirmed HIV or CJD. Which amazed me but there it is.
    Yes you can donate after having cancer and yes I can donate with Hep B antibodies.

    However .... the final decision re use of the organs is up to the surgical team at the time of harvest. Which I think is a terrifyingly difficult time to be making a quick decision based on a visual of the organ and the results of a limited run of tests. There have been publicised cases recently where cancer and hepatitis have NOT been picked up in a donor, and the disease has been transferred to the transplantee.
    In the case of liver and heart transplants the transplantee needs the organ quickly so many checks can't be run. In the case of a kidney transplant the patient can perhaps wait on dialysis for more checks, but how many checks/tests are reasonably practical. The donor organs have to be harvested within a limited space of time.

    The argument for donating less than perfect organs is that there are more people waiting than there are organs, and its a case of risk assessment - death or an extended life with an iffy organ?

    For both kidney and liver, and I would guess some other organs too, a transplant is not a gift of old age. They last a few years, not a lifetime. But for people on the waiting list I guess they are there because they want a few more years even if they are not years in tip top health. I follow a few transplant stories, and its not an easy option but it is life.

    However, its an expensive option, like the babies in intensive care. Would the money be better spent on screening or cancer drugs?