Hundreds of people in Britain have received an organ transplant from someone with a history of cancer, it has been revealed.
Figures from NHS Blood and Transplant show that in the five years to March 31, 272 UK organ donors had suffered from cancer or malignancy.
Nonetheless 675 people received a transplant using their organs.
Even when people have cancer there are some circumstances where they can still donate their organs. Official guidance states: “Risks of cancer transmission must be balanced against the risks of dying without transplantation.”
NHS Blood and Transplant is appealing for more people, regardless of their health, to give their eyes. It says it needs around 70 cornea donations a week to meet the demand for sight-saving transplants.
But for various reasons one in 10 people on the NHS Organ Donor Register do not want their eyes to be used. Professor John Forsythe, associate medical director for organ donation and transplantation at NHS Blood and Transplant, said: “Please don’t let the fact you have a health condition or have had an illness in the past stop you from registering as a donor.
“We work hard to minimise the risks to recipients by carefully evaluating all potential organ and tissue donors. “What many people don’t realise is that you could potentially donate your corneas and help save someone’s sight even if certain cancers are a cause of your death.
“Please agree to cornea donation too when you register to donate your organs – you could end up saving someone’s sight even if you can’t donate your organs when you die.”