New organ donation cards without obligation

New regulation on organ donation: Health insurance companies must query readiness for organ donation

Due to the new regulation of organ donation, the statutory health insurance companies are obliged to check the organ donation readiness of their insured persons every two years. That is why, since yesterday, the health insurance companies have been sending organ donation cards with the electronic health card or the contribution notification. After the organ donation scandal, Germans' willingness to donate had dropped by almost 50 percent in October. It remains to be seen whether the new regulation will benefit the approximately 12,000 patients who are currently waiting for a donor organ.

Organ donation card will be sent with health card or contribution notification. After the Bundestag voted in favor of amending the Transplantation Act, the so-called decision-making solution has been in effect since November 1st, 2012. Thereafter, the health insurance companies are obliged to check the willingness of their members to donate every two years. For this purpose, the health insurance companies send organ donation cards together with the electronic health card or the contribution notification to all insured persons aged 16 and over. The health insurance companies have one year for initial information.

In this way, the population should be made aware of the issue of organ donation and the general willingness to donate should be increased. Surveys had previously shown that many people are fundamentally willing to donate their organs, but do not have an organ donation card and therefore are not officially considered organ donors. The so-called decision-making solution leaves the insured person free to react to the letter from the health insurers. Nobody is obliged to make a decision or even donate organs.

In the case of people who decide against organ donation after their death or who do not make a statement but who are eligible as donors, relatives are asked about it as before the reform.

Living will must not collide with information in the organ donation card As the German Foundation for Organ Transplantation (DSO) informs, those who decide to donate the organ after death should note that "the information in the organ donation card does not conflict with that in the living will, such as the note the waiving of life support measures ". For organ donation, it is imperative to maintain blood supply after brain death. Otherwise the organs could no longer be transplanted. The DSO therefore advises "to supplement clear information on short-term intensive care measures in the living will".

Organ removal takes place only after brain death has been determined. According to the DOS, many people's fear of organ removal before death occurs is unfounded. A corresponding intervention is only carried out if the patient's brain death, for example after a serious traffic accident, is determined by a doctor. This is the case when the person's brain functions are irretrievably damaged and completely destroyed. The DOS defines this state as "an irretrievable loss of all perception, thinking, control of breathing and the central ability to control all bodily functions".

If a person's brain death has been determined, further medical efforts are pointless. In the event that one or more organs of the person concerned are suitable for the transplant, doctors or a transplant coordinator will conduct a conversation with the relatives. During this time, the brain dead is still artificially ventilated.

If the relatives agree to the organ donation or an organ donation ID card is available, the organization center of the German Organ Transplantation Foundation (DSO) will be informed, who will coordinate the organ donation in Germany and work with Eurotransplant, a non-profit organization that coordinates the international exchange of donor organs.

A laboratory examination of the donor blood provides information about possible diseases. The donor's blood type and tissue characteristics are also determined. However, a final decision as to whether an organ is suitable for transplantation is made only when the organ is removed from the operating room. If the doctors' verdict is positive, the organ is brought to the transplant center as quickly as possible, where the organ recipient is already being prepared for the transplant.

Willingness to donate has declined in Germany due to organ donation scandal After an organ donation scandal was uncovered last summer, in which doctors are said to have partially manipulated the urgency for a donor organ in some patients, the willingness to donate of Germans fell by almost 50 percent in October. The situation is precarious for the approximately 12,000 patients who are currently waiting for a donor organ. Because three people die every day while waiting for a donor organ. It will be shown in the future whether the new regulation of organ donation will benefit those affected. (ag)

Also read:
AOK does not send organ donation cards
Organ donation scandal: call for more controls
Were rich people preferred to donor organs?
Relatives often overwhelmed with organ donation
Cash registers should query readiness for organ donation

Image: Günther Richter /

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