Human Tissue Authority

The regulator for human tissue and organs

NHS Blood and Transplant announce 500 people have now donated a kidney to a stranger

Issue date: 
21 September 2016

A decade ago it first became possible for individuals in the UK to donate a kidney to someone they did not know, and had never met - this form of living donation is known as non-directed altruistic donation.

You can read more about our role in living donation, and the independent assessment process, on our website here...  You can also download our leaflet about our role in organ donation in multiple languages, including: Welsh, Urdu, Punjabi, Polish, Hindi, Gujarati, Greek, Bengali, Arabic, and Malayalam.

Before September 2006, living donation was limited to direct exchanges between family members and friends.

What happened in 2006?
Changes in the law that year - through the Human Tissue Act - allowed the introduction of the donor sharing scheme and non-directed altruistic donation.

Now, hospitals and the Human Tissue Authority - through an Independent Assessor - carefully asses all donors, and donation only goes ahead if it safe to do so, and the conditions of the HT Act are met; this includes valid consent being given.

It is also an offence to be involved in the buying or selling of human organs. All donors are asked to provide a signed declaration confirming there is no reward associated with the organ donation and transplantation. Read more here...

There is also guidance for donors on our process available here...  You can also download this guidance in multiple languages, including: WelshUrduPunjabiPolishGujaratiGreekBengali, and Arabic.

How does it work?
An altruistic kidney donor can choose to donate his or her kidney to a patient in the UK living kidney sharing scheme.

Their recipient will be registered in the scheme with a donor, usually a friend or relative, who cannot donate directly to him/her - usually because the pair are incompatible by blood group or HLA (tissue) type or would prefer a closer HLA match to one another.  

The donor for recipient one will then donate to recipient two and, in turn, the donor for recipient two donates to a person on the national transplant waiting list. 

This means the original altruistic donor creates the opportunity for up to three transplants. Organs for transplant need to be compatible by blood group and HLA (tissue) type to have the best chance of success.

NHS Blood and Transplant and their partner charities are calling for more people to consider saving lives by donating to a stranger, read more here... 

You can read more about the roles of the HTA and NHS BT here...

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