New data shows that hundreds of patients have benefited from donor organs from patients who had suffered from cancer.
Statistics made available by the Press Association show that a total of 272 donors with a history of cancer donated organs over the last five years. These donations benefited more than 675 patients waiting for an organ transplant.
Officials from the NHS Blood and Transplant department said there is an assumption that cancer patients cannot be organ donors. However, there are instances where organ donation is a viable option. Donor eyes are particularly valuable. In many cases, cancer patients were able to donate their eyes even when it wasn’t possible to donate other organs.
Advice from the Advisory Committee on the Safety of Blood, Tissues and Organs, suggests that every case should be evaluated individually. The risks of transmitting cancer should be balanced against the risk of death. In many cases, organs from patients who have died from cancer are suitable for donation and the decision to become a donor can have an incredibly positive impact on another person’s life. Research suggests that currently, the risk of cancer transmission from donor organs is 0.06 percent.
NHS Blood and Transport’s associate medical director for organ donation and transplantation, Professor John Forsythe, said there’s an assumption that pre-existing and underlying conditions can prevent people from becoming donors, but often, organ donation is a possibility. Authorities work hard to minimise risk and there is a rigorous process in place to ensure that all donor organs are suitable.