"Altruistic kidney donation has, in the past year, increased by 55 per cent, with 118 living people donating a kidney. The practice only became legal in 2006, and the following year only six procedures were recorded. Since then the numbers have risen exponentially.
Transplant experts believe that cases such as that of the 85-year-old woman who this year became Britain’s oldest living kidney donor – “Why do I need two kidneys to sit at home knitting and watching television?”, she asked – have inspired others to follow suit.
Before 2006, only family and close friends were allowed to give up their kidney for people suffering from kidney dysfunction. The authorities were wary of a trade in organs that could lead to an exploitative or coercive relationship between recipient and donor.
The current legislation, drawn to prevent this, states that donors are not allowed to know the identity of the recipient, although recipients are allowed to get in touch with donors, if they choose to, after the operation. This is so that the recipient is not made to feel any moral or financial obligation.