This year, on 5 July, the NHS celebrated its 70th birthday. Over the decades, the NHS has transformed health and wellbeing in the UK and has become one of our most loved institutions.
To mark the occasion, celebrations were held across the country recognising advances in health, care, science and technology, and we held our own celebrations here at Westfield House too.
Our Charitable Trust is a longstanding supporter of the NHS and something we’ve passionately championed for several years is organ donation and transplantation. This is an area of medicine which has developed significantly in the last seven decades, saving and improving thousands of lives every year.
To mark how far we’ve come, we wanted to highlight some of the major milestones that have brought us to where we are today:
1948 - The NHS is established and will go on to be at the forefront of organ transplant technology.
1965 - A kidney transplant in the UK uses an organ donated from a dead person for the first time.
1968 - Britain’s first heart transplant is carried out by a team of 18 doctors and nurses at the National Heart Hospital in London. Around 300 heart transplants are now performed in the UK every year.
1968 - Professor Roy Caine performs the UK’s first liver transplant at Addenbrooke’s hospital in Cambridge.
1971 - Donor card for kidney donation is introduced to show a person wishes to donate their organs.
1981 - The original kidney donor card is replaced by a new donor card which is expanded to include heart, liver, pancreas and cornea donation.
1983 - The first combined heart and lung transplant is performed by Sir Magdi Yacoub at Harefield Hospital.
1994 - Following a five-year campaign, the NHS Organ Donor Register is set up to co-ordinate supply and demand.
1995 - The UK’s first living liver donation takes place.
2004 - Tenth Anniversary of the Organ Donor Register – by now 15million people have registered their wish to be an organ donor.
2005 - UK Transplant merged with the National Blood Service to form NHS Blood and Transplant.
2007 - Former palliative care nurse Kay Mason becomes the first non-directed altruistic donor in the UK, donating her kidney to a complete stranger.
2015 - Wales introduces legislation that deems that people over the age of 18 who live and die in Wales have consented to organ donation unless they have recorded a decision to opt out.
2017 - The English and Scottish Government indicate that they too will legislate to introduce an ‘opt out’ system.
Today, 25 million people are signed up to the Organ Donor Register. This is an incredible number, however there are still more than 6,000 people waiting for a transplant and only 1,500 donations a year. Unfortunately, this leads to on average three people dying every day because they are in need on an organ.
In this landmark year we are exceptionally proud to once again be supporting the British Transplant Games. The Games raise awareness of the need for more people to join the Organ Donation Register while showcasing the happy and healthy lives people can have after a transplant.
The Games this year are taking place in Birmingham, a city which recently marked its 5,000th Liver Transplant, and I’m very much looking forward to another inspiring event. To celebrate such a landmark year in the history of our health service, and to help save even more lives, I encourage everyone to join the NHS Organ Donor Register and give the ‘gift of life’.