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More lives saved through organ transplantation at OUH despite COVID-19


New figures reveal there were 205 lifesaving and transforming transplants carried out at Oxford University Hospitals (OUH) last year (2020/21) despite the Covid-19 pandemic.

In addition, there were 18 deceased organ donors at the Trust helping save or improve the lives of 3,391 people desperately in need of a transplant in the UK.

With an incredible effort from the OUH Organ Donation and Transplantation teams, despite the reduced staffing and stricter measures of infection control due to Covid-19, kidney transplant operations have never stopped at the Trust during the pandemic.

The teams, based at the John Radcliffe and Churchill hospitals in Oxford, managed to help even more people waiting for a kidney than the previous year, with number of kidney transplants going up to 180 from 168 delivered in 2019/2020.

NHS Blood and Transplant and OUH have released the figures to mark the publication of NHS Blood and Transplant’s annual Organ and Tissue Donation and Transplantation Activity Report.

The report reveals a steady increase in support for organ donation around the country, with 69 per cent of families giving their consent/authorisation when asked about organ donation.

The annual report shows that nationally the number of patients receiving transplants fell last year due to the pandemic as Covid-19 had a wide-reaching impact across the whole NHS and every aspect of UK society.

Despite this, 1,180 people in the UK donated their organs after they died, saving or improving the lives of 3,391 transplant recipients and giving hope to the thousands of patients still waiting.

Professor Peter Friend, Director of the Oxford Transplant Centre at OUH, said: “The need for transplants hasn’t changed during the pandemic. So, we did as much as we could to keep our service in operation to deliver life-changing transplants especially for the many waiting for a kidney.

“However, for us to be able to continue to save lives, it’s equally important that people support organ donation.

“Please talk to your family about your organ donation decision. Letting your family know that you want to save lives will make it much easier if there comes a time when organ donation is a possibility.”

The law around organ donation in England changed to an opt out system in May last year and in March this year in Scotland, and it is hoped public support for organ donation will continue to build.

Organ donation remains a most precious gift. Adults covered by the new law change still have a choice about whether or not they want to donate, and families are still involved before organ donation goes ahead.

John Forsythe, Medical Director of Organ and Tissue Donation and Transplantation, at NHS Blood and Transplant, says:

“This past year has been completely unprecedented in the history of the NHS, as well as in our wider society. So, the fact that we managed to maintain three quarters of our normal donation and transplantation activity across the UK is absolutely phenomenal. 

“Each one of us in the wider clinical team of donation and transplantation, across the UK, are immensely proud of the work to keep organ donation and transplants happening in the most challenging circumstances. But our commitment is nothing compared with donors and their families – the gift of life has been donated in the midst of a tragedy made even more difficult by Covid restrictions.”

Find out more and register your decision by visiting NHS Organ Donor Register at and share your decision with your family.