According to a report from the National Health Service, organ donations from patients with cancer have increased in the United Kingdom (UK) over the past five years. Between April 2011 and March 2016, 272 people with a history of cancer donated organs upon their death, resulting in 675 organ transplants.
For most patients with cancer, tissues such as heart valves, skin, bone, tendons, and menisci cannot be donated; some organs and tissues, on the other hand, can be used as long as the patient’s cancer had not spread in the previous 12 months. Officials said there is a “common misconception” that people cannot donate their organs or tissues if they have had cancer, but there are some circumstances where it is possible. Cornea donation is a key area where donors have been able to help. The report indicated that 1,033 people from the UK who died from cancer or who had a history of cancer donated their corneas during the assessment period, resulting in 1,684 corneal transplants. The risk of donor-transmitted cancer in the UK is estimated at 0.06 percent.
Sources: Medscape, August 23, 2016; BBC News, August 13, 2016.