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At any time, around 450 New Zealanders are on the waiting list for a kidney transplant.
Transplant centres are based in Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch, and Organ Donation New Zealand organises the allocation of organs.
"It is a huge surgery, both from the donor and recipient’s perspective, and we don’t want to put anyone in any undue risk," Southern District Health Board renal transplant co-ordinator Fiona Ferguson said.
In 2016, 86 deceased donors gave kidneys for transplant, as did 82 living donors.
Last year, deceased donors shot up to 118, but live donors dropped to 69 — hence the SDHB’s focus for World Kidney Day, March 8, being on encouraging more live donors to join the programme.
"We’re trying to raise awareness of live organ donation as an option," Ms Ferguson said.
Live donors fall in to two camps — either family or friends of someone with kidney failure, or altruistic donors happy to provide an organ for a complete stranger.
Financial support is available for live donors, who are subject to a rigorous screening programme before being accepted.
"Help can come from where people least expect it sometimes, which is absolutely amazing, as people are blown away and amazed by such a generous offer," Ms Ferguson said.
"It’s also really important to acknowledge those families who agree to donate their loved ones’ organs after they pass away — that is such a huge trauma for people, and it’s amazing that families agree to donate in those stressful times."