People in the North East are being urged to support organ donation as figures show the number of people spending Christmas on the heart transplant waiting list is 24% up on last year.
In Tyne and Wear, there are currently six people on the heart transplant waiting list, and 199 people in the area are recorded on the UK Transplant Registry as having received a heart transplant.
Nationally, there are currently 298 people on the waiting list for a heart transplant, compared to 240 people last Christmas.
NHS Blood and Transplant is urging people to tell their families they wish to donate to help with the deadly shortage of organs.
For most patients on the heart transplant waiting list, all other medical options have been exhausted, and a donated organ is their only hope.
Since last Christmas, 31 people across the country have died while on the waiting list for a heart transplant.
The Department of Health recently launched a consultation into an ‘opt out’ system of organ donation for England.
Under the proposed system, you would be a donor unless you don’t want to donate.
Sally Johnson, NHS blood and transplant director of Organ Donation and Transplantation, said: “Hundreds of people are spending Christmas waiting for a call that might never come.
“Their families will be spending the festive period living with fear and uncertainty.
“We need more people in Tyne and Wear to agree to donation to help with the number of people waiting for hearts and organs of every kind.
“Whatever the outcome of the opt out consultation, if you support organ donation, please act today. Tell your family you want to donate and join the Donor Register.”
The number of heart transplants during 2017-18 so far stands at 126, a decline of 9.4%, compared to 139 at the same time last year.