Risky organ donors rising24th November 2009
The BBC has warned that organs from people with cancer or a history of drug problems are being used to carry out transplants because of a lack of donors.
BBC Radio File on 4 was informed that the number of organ transplants involving high risk donors increased from 13% of 787 donors in 1998 to 26% of 899 donors in 2008.
Surgeons said they faced the choice between letting a person who needed a transplant die or carrying out a transplant from a high risk donor.
Around three people die every day in the UK because the organ they need for a transplant is not available.
"Marginal" organ donors include people aged over 70, smokers, alcoholics, drug abusers and people with serious illnesses.
Professor James Neuberger, medical director of NHS Blood and Transplant, which is responsible for the co-ordination of organ supply, told File on 4: "There is no doubt that if we had more donor organs... we could be a lot more selective about those that are used."
He added: "In some cases this is completely safe for the patient but we're certainly seeing organs from higher risk donors being used in order to meet the ever growing need for organ transplantation."
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