Thursday, September 24, 2020

Northern Ireland kidney transplant doctor reveals how they ‘transformed’ 101 lives in 101 days in lockdown

Transplant News Sharing // News from Source www.belfastlive.co.uk

Quick thinking kidney transplant doctors in Northern Ireland transformed the lives of a record number of patients, during lockdown.

An astounding 101 patients were given new kidneys in 101 days according to Belfast City Hospital transplant consultant, Dr Aisling Courtney.

She said the decision to start operating months before most UK transplant units allowed them access to more organs so they could speed through two years’ work in just weeks.

Dr Courtney told Belfast Live : “The waiting list for kidney transplantation is now just over 60 people because of the increased number of transplants during the Covid -era. It’s reduced the waiting list.

“We weren’t able to do live donor transplants but we did do deceased donor transplants. The reason that we did so many was because virtually every transplant centre in the UK had closed.

“We closed for a month, so from the middle of March to the middle of April we did no transplants, and then we started at a time when there only were a couple of other centres in the UK doing deceased donor transplants.

“We had the opportunity of kidneys that were offered to us to transplant because no one else could utilise them.

“Until all the other centres in the UK opened, we did 101 deceased donor transplants in 101 days – average one a day. Ordinarily we would have done maybe 14 in that time period.”

Over an eight week period, Dr Courtney said a third of all UK kidney transplants were carried out in Belfast. But she was at pains to add that the additional kidneys were available – not as a result of coronavirus – but because very few other units were asking for them. People who died of Covid-19 were in fact excluded from organ donation.

It was the head start on other transplant units that helped them provide the same number of transplants that normally would have taken “two years”.

“We kind of thought that if we got a head start on the other units – then that would really help us,” she added.

“The surgeon that led it along with me is Tim Brown – between the two of us, we thought we should try this and it has been a tremendous opportunity for people in Northern Ireland.

“That’s why we were able to avail of the deceased donor organs.”

Now just 60 people are on waiting lists for a new kidney in Northern Ireland.

Dr Courtney also revealed that most of kidney transplants carried out here use organs from live donors, rather than those who have passed away.

She added: “We have always had a live donor programme in Northern Ireland but it was relatively small.

“But because people in Northern Ireland ended up waiting for a very long time to get the opportunity of a deceased organ transplant, really over the last 10 years we increased the number of live transplants because you’ve got the opportunity to get a really good quality kidney and quite often without going on to dialysis at all.

“They could avoid dialysis and avoid the wait and the problems with dialysis if they’ve got someone who is suitable and would like to give them a kidney. It’s a huge benefit.”

Before the pandemic struck, Dr Courtney said doctors in Belfast were performing an average around 65 “live transplants a year” – a higher number of around 50 transplants using organs from those who have died.

“From 2010 it has increased,” she added.

“For the last 10 years we have done more live donors than deceased donors in Northern Ireland.”

Before that she said “the maximum would have been eight or nine in a year” for live donor transplants.

“We increased it to almost 50 in 2010 and it has stayed consistently above 60 to 70 since then,” the Belfast Trust consultant explained.

She also said “it is increasingly common” for people from outside of families to donate a kidney.

“You don’t have to be genetically related to someone to donate a kidney to them, so it’s increasingly common that we have people that aren’t related – in laws or friends who come forward to donate,” she explained.

“We are very pleased to accept anyone who is willing to donate.”

The success rate of such donations is very high – around 95% – and transplant expert Dr Courtney said anyone who would like to offer up a kidney “can contact the coordinators at Belfast City Hospital” or check out www.donatelife.co.uk.

Dr Courtney, who has been a transplant consultant since 2009, said it is a “tremendous privilege to be able to be involved in patients care with kidney transplantation”.

“You get to work with people who are willing to donate a kidney. They are all by definition very lovely people and it’s an amazing group of people who are willing to come forward and do that,” she added.

“Transplantation is really transformative for patients and their families so to have the opportunity to be involved in kidney transplantation is amazing.

“A couple of weeks ago we transplanted someone who is three and the oldest one that we transplanted this year is 78.

“Transplantation is not possible without someone giving an amazing gift, whether deceased or living. None of this would be possible at all unless people were willing to donate and of course we are very happy to access anyone who wishes to donate a kidney when they are still alive.

“The assessment process is very thorough and we wouldn’t allow anyone to donate unless we were confident that it would be safe.

“Everyone can potentially help by talking about donation and signing up to the organ donor register and letting their relative know because there is the opportunity to, in their final hours, give a lifeline to someone else.”

Click here to sign the organ donor register.

Transplant News Sharing // “Kidney Transplants” – Google News from Source www.belfastlive.co.uk

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