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Organ transplants fall for first time in 8 years

Organ transplants fell by 5% in France last year, the first drop in eight years.

Doctors feared worse figures after a flu epidemic prevented them from working on organ donation because they were busy keeping people alive.

That led to a 10% drop in transplants early in the year.

Dr Christian Lamotte, of the Agence de la Biomédecine, said another factor was a fall of 15% in the number of strokes, due to a successful campaign - but that this meant fewer deaths and so fewer donors and transplants

A new law in 2017 giving “presumed consent” - people are presumed to offer organs after death unless they register at or leave written instructions – had little effect.

The number of people and families who refused to offer organs fell only slightly, from 33% in 2016 to 30% in 2018.

Dr Lamotte said: “The situation corrected itself towards the end of 2018 and there were encouraging developments.

“It is too early to say for 2019 but obviously a shortage of donors cuts the number of patients we can help.”

A 20% increase in donations came after patients died following a heart attack when medical treatments were halted or failed.

Dr Lamotte said: “For families, it is particularly painful but our medical teams are trained to work with them.

“Because of improved prevention, we are seeing fewer early deaths, especially of younger people, which is good news and a sign of better healthcare.

“But we also have a system where donations are encouraged through our Plan Greffe, especially from living donors who help in kidney or liver transplants.”

Kidneys and livers are the two organs most often donated, with 3,546 kidney transplants and 1,323 livers in 2018.

For donations after death, each donor can offer an average of 3.5 organs.

Unlike with blood donations, where people who were in  the UK between 1980 and 1996 cannot give blood, Britons are included in the presumed consent law.

They can offer organs for donation after death unless they have had close contact with beef, or beef products.

You can specify only certain organs – for example, offering your heart but not an eye.

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