500 people have now donated a kidney to a stranger

Wednesday 21 September 2016


More than 500 people have helped save the life of a stranger by becoming a living kidney donor, including 42 people who donated a kidney at Guy’s Hospital.

Changes in the law a decade ago made it possible for individuals to become living donors by donating a kidney to someone they do not know and have never met. 33 people at Guy’s have had their lives saved by kidneys that have been donated by strangers – known as altruistic organ donors.

Altruistic donor Robert Wiggins, 61, from Kings Langley in Hertfordshire, had his kidney removed by surgeon Professor Nizam Mamode at Guy's Hospital in 2013. Robert says: "When I first heard about altruistic kidney donation I decided to look into it a bit more.  

"I soon realised that I was walking around with an organ I didn't require that I could instead use to help another human being in desperate need. When I considered the inconvenience and risk to myself balanced against the chance to save a person's life, I felt compelled to become a donor.

"The surgery to remove my kidney went smoothly and my recovery went well. I was out of hospital within 48 hours, walking easily in a week, and back at work in three weeks. 

“I knew it was definitely all worthwhile when I heard my kidney had been successfully transplanted into another person. To be able to make that positive difference to somebody's life is an incredible feeling." 

Robert went on to chair the charity Give a Kidney and he campaigns to raise awareness of altruistic organ donation.  

Professor Nizam Mamode, clinical lead for transplant surgery at Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust and co-author of a major study on altruistic kidney donation, backs NHS Blood and Transplant’s call for more people to consider becoming a kidney donor.

Professor Mamode says: “The number of kidneys available for transplant is a life or death issue for patients on the waiting list. This is why it’s so crucial to raise awareness of altruistic organ donation.

“Living donation is highly successful, both for the donor and the recipient.

“Altruistic donors allow us to give kidneys to people who otherwise wouldn't have a transplant. We recently had someone who's been waiting 20 years and received an altruistic kidney donation."

Most kidney transplant patients receive an organ from a deceased donor but a shortage of deceased organ donors means many people do not receive the life-saving transplant they need.

Altruistic donors undergo several months of physical and psychological tests at their local transplant centre to ensure they are able to safely donate and to confirm which recipients would be a suitable match. Potential recipients are identified by NHS Blood and Transplant and the transplants are performed by hospital transplant units.


Last updated: September 2016

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