Over 500 families in the U.K. have prevented organ donations from deceased relatives since April 2010, refusing thousands of people the chance of a transplant -- even though they knew or were informed that their family member was on the country's organ donor register.
In a statement released on Friday, the U.K.'s NHS Blood and Transplant said that family refusals had resulted in an estimated 1,200 people "missing out on a potentially life-saving transplant." According to the organisation, roughly 1,000 people in need of a transplant die every year in the U.K., while more than 6,500 people were currently waiting for one.
"We understand that families are approached about donation at a very challenging time and that it can come as a surprise to find out a relative had made a decision to donate," Sally Johnson, director of organ donation and transplantation at NHS Blood and Transplant, said in a statement.
"This can make it difficult for families to support donation going ahead and their relative saving lives," Johnson added.
In the United States, 29,532 people received organ transplants in 2014, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), with 79 people receiving a transplant every day on average. Over 120 million people are signed up to be a donor.