Waiting lists for heart transplants have trebled

4th December 2017

Waiting lists for heart transplants have trebled over 10 years

New figures from the NHS Blood and Transplant service show the number of people on the waiting list for a new heart in the UK has increased by 162% since 2008

Since 2008, the number of people waiting for a new heart has increased from 95 to 249 this year. 

However, the number of heart donations has not kept pace, with 127 donations in 2008 and 199 this year, an increase of 57 per cent.

On the 50th anniversary of the first human heart transplant, carried out by South African cardiac surgeon Christiaan Barnard, Professor Stephen Westaby, GP at John Radcliff Hospital said  it was time to switch to artificial pumps and stem cell therapy, which could help thousands more people in Britain each year.

Professor Stephen Westaby continued:  “I am a great supporter of cardiac transplantation. Some patients live for 20 years with excellent quality of life, but we can only treat one per cent of people.

“How does a society value a treatment that needs another young person to die first and is applicable to less than one per cent of those who might benefit?

“I think within ten years we won’t see anymore heart transplants, except for people with congenital heart damage, where only a new heart will do.

“I think the combination of heart pumps and stem cells has the potential to be a good alternative which could help far more people.”

Currently around 15,000 people under 65 each year in Britain could benefit from a heart transplant, but there are only around 150 organs available annually.

Joel Rose, Chief Executive of Cardiomyopathy UK said: “ The growing transplant waiting list highlights how important it is that we don't give up on promoting organ donation and encouraging everyone to have a conversation with their loved ones about becoming a donor. ”