A PATIENT on dialysis could travel to Mars and back - twice - in the time it takes to get a new kidney.

The average waiting time for a transplant is 1000 days, about the time it would take to make two trips to Earth's second closest planet, which is around 140 million miles away.

Some 700 people in Glasgow are on dialysis and in desperate need of a new kidney and one person dies every day waiting.

Kidney Research UK is highlighting the shortage of donors and urging people to sign up to the register as National Transplant Week gets under way today.

The charity has also backed the Evening Times' campaign to change Scotland's transplant laws and introduce an opt-out system of organ donation, where the default position is that everyone is considered a donor.

Last week Glasgow MSP Anne McTaggart launched Scotland's first consultation on her proposed Organ and Tissue Donation (Scotland) Bill, which is calling for the change.

Kidney disease is a growing epidemic - the prevalence of patients presenting with kidney failure is increasing consistently at 4% every year. The number of people being treated for kidney failure in the UK has risen every year since 2006.

Currently, in the UK, there are almost 6000 people waiting for a kidney - that's around 90% of the total organ waiting list. But, less than 3000 kidney transplants are carried out each year.

The charity say that although kidney transplant is the best form of treatment for kidney disease, it's not a cure. On average, a kidney transplant lasts between 10 and 15 years, which means some people will need several in their lifetime.

Sandra Currie, Chief Executive of Kidney Research UK, said: "The situation is presenting a real challenge - transplant waiting lists continue to increase because there are not enough organs available. Many patients who could benefit from a kidney transplant have to stay on dialysis, which can, in many cases, restrict quality of life.

"Kidney Research UK is funding the best research across the UK to make kidney transplants work better and last longer. In time we will be able to reduce the amount of people who are waiting for a kidney. "Further funding is vital to ensure we can continue this research."

On Sunday, September 21 the charity will hold its second Bridges Walk in Glasgow to help raise funds for research into kidney disease.

The walk covers seven miles, taking in some of the city's most iconic sights including the Riverside Museum: Scotland's Museum of Transport & Travel and the Tall Ship.

n To find out more go www.kidneyresearchuk.org/glasgow

n To find out more about how to join the Organ Donor Register, visit: www.kidneyresearchuk.org/jointheregister

caroline.wilson @eveningtimes.co.uk