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Organ donor numbers hit target

The number of people on the national organ donor register has doubled to 16 million – a year earlier than expected, according to figures.

Eight years ago, former health secretary Alan Milburn urged the public to double the number from eight million to 16 million by 2010.

Figures from the NHS Blood and Transplant (NHSBT) health authority show that more than a quarter (26%) of people in the UK have now pledged to donate their organs after death.

In 2001, the number of people waiting for a transplant stood at 5,532. Since then the number has increased to almost 8,000 and is rising, according to NHSBT.

Since January 2001, 23,551 organ transplants have been carried out using donor organs, but at least 4,500 people died while waiting for a transplant over that period.

Lynda Hamlyn, chief executive of NHSBT, said: "Reaching 16 million on the NHS Organ Donor Register a year before planned is testament to the support that exists for donation in the UK.

"More than a quarter of the population have demonstrated their commitment by signing the register. But, with almost 8,000 people in the UK currently waiting for a life-saving organ transplant we need to do more."

Copyright © Press Association 2009

NHS Blood and Transplant