British kidney donors select their own recipient through controversial website

Operation involving a donated kidney Credit: Tonight/ITV1

On Friday a controversial US website is launching in the UK which allows patients to plead directly for a kidney donor online. The site's creators hope it will persuade more people to donate as they get to choose who receives their organs.

  • Using the NHS patients have no say who receives their kidney which is secretly delivered to the person most in need

  • Doctors say most of us could donate one of our two kidneys and live a normal life

  • But less than 120 of us have done that on the NHS for strangers

  • By contrast, in America, hundreds more people are coming forward by being able to pick who gets their kidney after watching their personal appeals online

  • Some people in Britain have been giving their kidneys away to Americans because they want to choose who gets their 'gift of life'

The current American version of the website contains videos of patients pleading for a donor. In this clip taken from the Tonight programme Julie Etchingham asks if it is a "cruel X Factor for the very sick".

On Friday, MatchingDonors launch their website in the UK. The charity, which is based in Boston in the United States, has matched around 250 strangers. That's twice the number achieved by the entire NHS and its anonymous scheme. The website's creators remind any one using the site itis illegal in both Britainand Americato buy or sell organs.

Unwilling to give to the anonymous NHS system, Britain risks losing Aimee McCalister's kidney donation to America.

Aimee McCalister Credit: Tonight/ITV1

In Ramsgate, Rebecca Rogers has also signed up to Matching Donors.

Rebecca Rogers Credit: Tonight/ITV1

However, speaking to Julie Etchingham, the NHS defended the way it deals with transplants and said anonymity was vital.

In Berkshire, Di Franks donated a kidney into the NHS scheme. She now runs the charity Living Kidney Donation. She gave the following interview while watching one of the US kidney appeal videos.

You can get more information about organ donation from the following websites:

Tonight: The Kindness of Strangers ITV1, Thursday 7:30pm