Transplant Links (TLC) saves the lives of people in developing countries with kidney failure, and teaching transplant skills to local doctors so many more can be saved in the future.
Kidney failure is a growing problem worldwide. There are many causes, a lot of which are on the increase, and it can affect anyone at any age – adults and children. Some of the causes such as high blood pressure or diabetes are more common in Afro-caribbean countries.
In the western world a diagnosis of advanced kidney failure means life on a kidney dialysis machine until a transplant becomes available. Kidney transplants are now everyday medicine for many such countries, and they offer the chance of a return to a normal life again.
In the developing world, however, kidney failure usually means death. Dialysis is often not available, and when it is available it is out of financial reach of most. The average life expectancy of someone with kidney failure in many African countries is estimated to be 3 months, which is the average amount of time it takes to run out of money to pay for dialysis. It can leave the whole family without a penny, and with their loved one gone. A diagnosis of end-stage kidney failure has a worse outlook than a diagnosis of HIV/AIDs.
Many developing countries have made good progress with their healthcare development, and though they have the infrastructure to run a kidney transplant programme, they do not have the skills. There is no doubt that the patients want the chance of a normal life again through a transplant, and many have a family member willing and able to give them a kidney.
Transplant Links (TLC) was created to address the problem of the skill gap, and to give family members the chance to save the life of their loved one with kidney failure. By sharing the skills of UK transplant experts who are willing to give up their time, and carrying out as well as teaching transplantation, families can be given the chance to save their loved one, and with the transfer of skills many more patients and families can benefit in the future. TLC works with each of its partner countries in Africa, Asia and the Caribbean to save lives, and teach skills to save more lives. Volunteer surgeons, kidney specialists and nurses give up their time to travel with TLC to each country to work with local doctors and nurses over several years, carrying out transplants and teaching every step of the way.