19/07/2013 10:55 BST | Updated 18/09/2013 06:12 BST

The Frightening Truth About Heart Transplants

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This week, I learnt a frightening truth: the number of people waiting for a heart transplant has more than doubled in just four years. There are now 211 people on the active heart transplant list compared to 92 people in March 2009.

The 130 per cent increase is deeply troubling, especially when you consider the total number of people on the transplant list, including those waiting for other organs, has actually declined by seven per cent during the same period.

There are a number of reasons for the increase in the numbers waiting for a new heart.

Primarily it's down to more people surviving a heart attack but living with the consequences - heart failure. Those with severe heart failure need a heart transplant to survive or have a better quality of life.

Advancements in medical science also mean patients are living with heart failure for longer. Left ventricular assist devices, also known as LVADs, have been a vital development and help support ailing hearts until transplantation. But they're only a short term solution.

The third part of this equation is the sad fact that there is a desperate and unacceptable shortage of donor organs. The number of heart transplants carried out each year has simply not increased enough to meet the extra demand.

Until we find a cure for heart failure, or the UK Government moves to an opt-out organ donation system as Wales will be doing, more people need to sign up to the Organ Donor Register. It's also really important that people talk to their family about their wishes so their views are respected when they die.

Around a thousand patients die each year because of this country's organ shortage and so the British Heart Foundation is trying to add the same number of names to the Organ Donor Register before the British Transplant Games begin in Sheffield on August 15.

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