Government funding service to attract live kidney donors
A Manawatu kidney transplant patient has welcomed the health minister's announcement of extra funding to establish a National Renal Transplant Service, saying attracting live kidney donors is key to solving a nationwide shortage.
Health Minister Tony Ryall announced the Government would invest an extra $4 million to establish the service with the aim of increasing the number of live kidney donor transplantations over the next few years.
At 17, Richard Dryden, from Palmerston North, received a kidney transplant after suffering with kidney disease for seven years.
The extra funding would be well spent on getting people on the live donor register, Dryden said.
"I was lucky, my old lady was my donor.
"Live donors are by far the best option, given the waiting list is so huge. Any extra help is great."
Educating people on becoming live donors and having people consider "ticking the box on their licence" to be a donor would be beneficial, he said.
"You have the ability to turn someone's life around. It's just paying it forward and it's a chance to give someone else a chance at life, that's the real incentive."
Ryall said the shortage of kidneys for transplantation was a serious problem in New Zealand. While there were about 110 kidney transplants last year, there are still more than 600 people currently waiting for a kidney transplant.
"The new National Renal Transplant Service will be led by doctors and renal transplant experts and will help us better co-ordinate transplantation services across the country and increase transplant numbers," Ryall said.
"The target is to increase transplants by 10 per year. This will mean an extra 100 people will receive kidney transplants over the next four years."
The new service will include donor liaison co-ordinators who will work at each of the three transplanting centres and in the seven larger renal services in the country. The co-ordinators will support donors and recipients throughout the transplantation process, from providing education to interested potential donors to organising blood tests and carrying out pre-surgery preparation.
"This increase in funding builds on the $4m investment in Budget 2012 to raise awareness and encourage more people to donate organs," Ryall said.