Liver disease statistics

Admissions to hospitals in Northern Ireland of patients diagnosed with liver disease are steadily rising.

2011-12 saw an increase of 28% on the previous year.

2012 -13 saw a further 21% increase.



3,263 admissions (1,915 patients)



4,186 admissions (2,442 patients)



5,100 admissions (2,691 patients)

Clearly some patients were admitted on more than one occasion.  The steady rise in hospital admissions in Northern Ireland is not matched by a similar pattern in transplant statistics. Numbers receiving transplants and numbers on the waiting list have remained fairly steady over the same period.

Liver / lobe transplants

Waiting lists

Organ donation in 2014 – some information and statistics

Deceased donations

  • 19.5 million people are on the UK organ donor register. Roughly 567,000 of these are people from Northern Ireland.
  • These figures mark a significant increase in recent years. The number of deceased donors in the UK has increased by 50% since 2008.
  • However, in August 2013, 195 people from Northern Ireland were on the transplant waiting list.  The number of people awaiting transplants greatly exceeds the number of available organs.  On average, 15 people per year from Northern Ireland die in need of a transplant.
  • Deceased donors are either DBD (brain stem dead or ‘heart beating’) or DCD (‘non-heartbeating’).  Surgeons prefer DBD organs – because the moment the heart stops, organs begin to deteriorate.
  • Last year in the UK, 1,212 deceased donors (705 DBD and 507 DCD) ensured that there were 3,112 transplants.
  • Joining the organ donor register does not mean that you will be a donor after you die – in fact it is very, very unlikely.  Currently the UK has about 19 donors per million of population.

Live donations

  • Kidneys, livers and in some cases hearts, can be live donations.
  • There were 1,066 living kidney donations in the UK last year – of which 76 were altruistic donations (given for strangers, not for someone whom the donor knew).
  • Levels of live kidney donation in Northern Ireland are ahead of the rest of the UK.
  • Live liver donations are necessary because there are more people who need liver transplants than there are organs. They are possible because the liver is the only organ that can regenerate; after a live transplant the transplanted liver and the remnant liver in the donor will grow to an appropriate size in about 6 – 8 weeks.
  • Currently about 40% of liver donations for children are live donations.  In March 2013 Tracy Kinder, aged 42, became the first living donor grandmother when she donated part of her liver to her one month old grandson Reuben.
  • When someone needs a lung transplant, it is often easier for surgeons to transplant the lungs AND the heart.  When this happens, the patient’s sound heart will go to someone who needs a heart transplant.