HC Deb 21 December 1988 vol 144 cc309-11W
Mr. Home Robertson

To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will list the major countries where organ transplant surgery is practised, giving a summary of the legal provisions which apply to the donation of organs in each country.

Mr. Freeman

We do not collect comprehensive information on the legal provisions which apply to organ donation in other countries. The hon. Member may, however, wish to consult a report published in 1987 by the Council of Europe, copies of which are in the Library. The report is entitled "Organ Transplantation: current legislation in Council of Europe member states and Finland, and results of European co-operation" (reference MSN-3-4).

Mr. Home Robertson

To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) if he will make a statement on the availability of(a) hearts, (b) livers, (c) pancreases, (d) kidneys, (e) lungs and (f) eyes for transplant surgery;

(2) how many patients are waiting for transplant operations of (a) heart, (b) liver, (c) pancreas, (d) kidney, (e) lung and (f) cornea, respectively; and what is the maximum and minimum waiting time for such operations;

(3) if he will make a statement on the shortfall between organs available for transplant and the need for such organs; and if he will indicate how many potential recipients are likely to die because donor organs are not available, over the most convenient period.

Mr. Freeman

The number of organs available for transplant fluctuates significantly from time to time. The balance between the need for organs and the number available also varies, depending on such factors as whether a suitable match between recipient and donor can be found. In general terms, however, the shortage of cadaveric organs is most acute in the case of kidneys.

United Kingdom waiting lists, as notified to the United Kingdom transplant service (UKTS) on 25 November 1988 were:

Heart or heart/lung 396
Liver 44
Kidney 3,491
Cornea 581

Transplants of pancreases or lungs are rare, except when combined with the transplant of another organ. Only a proportion of patients waiting for corneal transplants are registered with UKTS; the waiting list does not therefore reflect the full national demand. Figures are not readily available on maximum and minimum waiting times.

The main purpose of kidney transplantation is not to save life but to improve its quality for those who would otherwise rely on dialysis. Heart and liver patients may on occasions die while waiting for a suitably matched organ but, because the availability of organs is inpredictable and the condition of individual patients awaiting transplantation will vary, no useful estimate can be made of the numbers likely to be involved in the future.

Mr. Home Robertson

To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will quantify the benefits of transplant surgery in terms of(a) additional years lived (b) quality of life for recipients and (c) savings to the National Health Service on the treatment of continuing illness, for each of (a) heart, (b) liver, (c) pancreas, (d) kidney, (e) lung and (f) cornea.

Mr. Freeman

I regret that we do not have available information in the form requested. Some information on heart transplants is given in "Costs and Benefits of the Heart Transplant Programmes at Harefield and Papworth Hospitals" (DHSS research report No. 12, 1985) which is available in the Library. Graft survival has steadily improved since this study was carried out.

For information on the survival of kidney transplants, I refer the hon. Member to the reply to my hon. Friend the Member for Newbury (Sir M. McNair-Wilson) on 19 December. An article by Wood, Mallick and Wing published in the British Medical Journal on 6 June 1987 (Volume 294) suggested that each successful kidney transplant saved the National Health Service £30,000 compared with the cost of renal dialysis.

We are not aware of similar studies of the costs and benefits of other forms of transplantation.