Relatives often overwhelmed with organ donation

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Relatives are often overwhelmed with the decision to donate organs

Every year 1,200 to 1,300 people donate one or more organs in Germany. After the number had increased slightly until 2010, it decreased again last year. Since many citizens are fundamentally willing to donate, but they still do not have an organ donation card, the Federal Government agreed in November 2011 on a new regulation for organ donation. Because people die every day because there are too few donor organs.

Relatives often refuse to donate organs out of fear
When a loved one dies, relatives are often not emotionally able to make a decision about organ donation. However, in new out of ten deaths in which organ donation would be possible, relatives have to make this decision without knowing what the dead man's attitude to the subject was. As a rule, the relatives' decision against the donation of the organ is out of fear of not doing something in the way of the deceased. This is also confirmed by the figures from the German Organ Donation Foundation (DSO). Less than seven percent had made a written decision last year, such as an organ donation card. At least 28 percent had given an oral decision before their death.

Nevertheless, relatives had to make the decision in 42 percent of the cases without knowing exactly what the deceased relative had to say on the matter. In every fourth case, relatives had to decide without any indication as to whether the dead person had opted for or against organ removal. The DSO reports: “The rejection rate is highest at over 40 percent if the decision is at the discretion of the relatives.” Unfortunately, people die as a result, whose lives could possibly be saved with an organ donation.

New regulation of organ donation
In principle, everyone can decide for themselves whether their "organs should be donated in whole or in part in the event of death". There are, for example, organ donation cards. On November 24 last year, the parliamentary groups in the Bundestag agreed on a compromise with the Federal Minister of Health. This means that every citizen should be asked regularly about their approval or rejection of organ donation after death. This could happen, for example, when health cards or other official documents are issued. However, the details of the new regulation are still controversial.

A representative survey by the Bertelsmann Stiftung and Barmer GEK in April 2011 confirmed the willingness to donate in Germany. For the evaluation, 1,778 people were asked in writing about their willingness to donate organs. 69 percent of those surveyed stated that the new regulation of the parliamentary group on organ donation would increase the general willingness to donate. 66 percent of those surveyed very likely stated that they actually consent to organ donation. Even 60 percent of the survey participants who do not currently have an organ donation card would probably or certainly agree to donate an organ. According to Dr. Christoph Straub, CEO of BARMER GEK, is now required by the federal government to conduct large-scale awareness campaigns. According to the DSO, around 12,000 people are currently waiting for a donor organ. (ag)

Read on:
Willingness to donate organs increases
Cash registers should query readiness for organ donation
Organ donations reach record levels in Germany
Federal Minister of Health campaigns for organ donation
Organ donation: majority for decision-making
Too little organ donation from young accident victims

Image: Günther Richter /

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