Organ transplants: Hundreds helped by former cancer patients
A total of 272 organ donors across the UK in the past five years had a history of cancer, according to data obtained by the Press Association. Their donations resulted in 675 people receiving a transplant. Eye donation is one key area where such donors have been able to help.
The figures from NHS Blood and Transplant also showed that 1,033 people who had suffered from some types of cancer went on to donate their eyes - but not other organs.
Officials say there is a "common misconception" that people cannot be organ donors if they have had cancer, but there are some circumstances where it is possible.
The Advisory Committee on the Safety of Blood, Tissues and Organs has said the "risks of cancer transmission must be balanced against the risks of dying without transplantation. Organs from deceased donors with some cancers may be safely used for transplantation." The risk of donor-transmitted cancer in the UK is currently assessed as 0.06%.
Minimise the risks
Prof John Forsythe, associate medical director for organ donation and transplantation at NHS Blood and Transplant, said people should not let a health condition or previous illness stop them from registering as a donor.
"We are very keen that everyone, regardless of their health status, registers a decision to donate and tells their family they want to donate. We work hard to minimise the risks to recipients by carefully evaluating all potential organ and tissue donors."
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