London (AFP) - England and Wales has seen an eighth straight annual rise in the number of patients benefiting from organ transplants, new NHS figures show, in a sign that donation is becoming increasingly acceptable.
There were 4,655 transplants carried out across the UK in the 2013/14 financial year - a 10 percent rise on the previous year and the first time the number has topped 4,600, NHS Blood and Transplant (NHSBT) said in a statement.
The new figures published by the authority to mark National Transplant Week showed that 1,146 of the transplants -- almost one in four -- were organs from living donors who donated a kidney or part of their livers to people in need.
The remainder of patients received organs donated after death, with the deceased donor transplant rate rising to 54.9 per million population, up from 49 per million population last year.
But despite the increases in the number of people benefiting from a transplant, around three people still die each day across the UK due to a shortage of organs, said NHSBT, which manages the national voluntary donation system for blood, tissues, organs and stem cells.
The authority said there needed to be a "revolution" in societal attitudes towards donation so more lives could be saved as the proportion of families who agree to organ donation after the death of a family member remains "stubbornly low".
During 2013/14, more than four in 10 families approached about organ donation said no to donating a loved one's organs, NHSBT said.
"We are truly grateful to the families of the 1,320 deceased donors and to each of the 1,146 living donors who made transplants possible last year," said Sally Johnson, NHSBT's director of organ donation and transplantation.
"Their donations ensured that for the eighth year in succession, the number of people benefiting from an organ transplant increased.
"However, we cannot be complacent. Despite year-on-year increases in activity, the UK can and must do more to save and improve lives through organ donation and transplantation.
"Family refusal is our biggest problem and it's sad we lag so far behind some other countries in terms of consent/authorisation rates to donation.
"The truth is every potential donor is precious and whenever a family cannot bring themselves to donate; patients waiting for an organ may die."
More than 20 million people across the UK have now made the decision to donate their organs after death by signing up to the NHS Organ Donor Register, NHSBT said.
But the authority explained that just signing the register was not enough.
"People who want to be organ donors after death need to make their wishes known to their next of kin and save them having to make that decision themselves at such a difficult time," the authority said.
People can sign up to the Organ Donor Register by visiting: or by calling 03001232323.