Organ donations reach record levels in Germany

Organ donation reached record levels in Germany in 2010

The German Organ Transplantation Foundation (DSO) reports that almost 1,300 people in Germany had their organs removed in 2010 after their death. This means that the number of transplants in Germany has reached its previous record.

"Never before in Germany has so many patients been helped with a transplant as last year," reports the DSO. Although the majority of Germans do not have an organ donation card, the number of organ transplants reached a peak last year, the Foundation said. "After the drop in organ donation numbers in 2008 and the standstill in 2009, things are now going up again," said the DSO. In 2010, 1,296 people had organs removed after their death - 79 more than in the previous year. Despite the record value, the experts still see considerable potential in the area of ​​organ donation. In international comparison, Germany still has a lot of catching up to do, according to the DSO.

More than 4,200 organs donated throughout Germany Over the past year, the number of organs donated has increased from 3,897 in 2009 to 4,205 in 2010, according to the DSO, whereby "with every organ donation (...) lives are saved", emphasized Günter Kirste, Medical director of the DSO. However, more than 12,000 patients are still on the waiting list, two-thirds of whom need a new kidney, according to the DSO. Nevertheless, the development, especially in the north and the middle of Germany, is quite gratifying. According to the foundation in the DSO region north, the federal states of Bremen, Hamburg, Lower Saxony and Schleswig-Holstein, as well as the federal states of Hesse, Rhineland-Palatinate and Saarland, the number of transplants has increased significantly.

Number of organ donations varies widely from region to region In the center of the DSO region, the number of transplants rose from 312 in 2009 to 444 in 2010, with the number of organ donors increasing from 139 to 202, the experts from DSO report. In the DSO Region North, the number of organs donated increased from 665 in 2009 to 729 in 2010, the DSO Medical Board continued. The figures show a positive development and make it clear "that there is enough potential in Germany to increase the number of organ donations," emphasized Professor Günter Kirste. However, the data collected by the DSO also show that there is still a lot of catching up to do in some federal states. The number of organ donors and donated organs in North Rhine-Westphalia fell again compared to 2009. According to the DSO, the number of organ donors decreased by three in 2010 (from 259 to 256) and the number of organs donated fell from 839 to 804. Günter Kirste explained that in order to increase the number of organ donations across Germany in the future, all participating institutions would have to fulfill their duties. At the same time, the expert called for better cooperation and coordination between all partners, whereby according to the DSO Medical Board, doctors, clinics and organizations are also responsible for health insurance companies.

The DSO is rather skeptical about the current discussion about new laws on transplantation. It is more important, for example, that the general conditions for the reporting obligation of hospitals across the country are standardized in order to reliably identify potential organ donors and to implement their will. "That is why we need more liabilities for all partners in the system," emphasized Günter Kirste. The in-house coordination project started in 2010 is a first important step in the right direction, but first results are not expected until the end of 2011, the DSO spokeswoman Birgit Blome told the Ärzte Zeitung

In the opinion of the DSO, positive effects have come from Steinmeier's kidney donation, among other things, from the great attention created last year by the kidney donation of the SPD parliamentary group leader Frank-Walter Steinmeier. Around every fifth organ transplanted in Germany comes from a living donor, although this is possible in principle because people have two kidneys but only need one healthy organ to survive. The second kidney can be made available for the transplant if needed and with the donor's consent, the DSO said. Although the living donations do not appear in the current DSO statistics, since only organs from dead donors are recorded, there are clearly positive tendencies to be observed.

Willingness to donate organs in Germany is increasing A survey by the Federal Center for Health Education (BzgA) on the willingness to donate organs to Germans has shown that Germans were generally more willing to donate their organs after death than two years ago. For example, the proportion of people between the ages of 14 and 75 who would consent to organ donation when requested increased from 67 percent in 2008 to 74 percent recently. However, according to the health authorities and various experts, only 14 to 25 percent of Germans still have an organ donor card. This puts Germany significantly behind in international comparison with a quota of around 16 organ donors per million inhabitants per year, the experts at DSO explained. In other countries such as Belgium, the USA, Austria, France, Italy or Finland there are more than 20 and in Spain even 34, emphasized Günter Kirste

DSO as the coordinating body for organ donation As the nationwide coordinating body for organ donation after death, the DSO is responsible for organizing all steps of the organ donation process including the transportation of the organs to the recipients. In order to cope with this task, almost 70 DSO coordinators are deployed throughout Germany, who also support the hospital staff in organ donation processes. According to the Transplantation Act, people in Germany can freely consent to organ donation from the age of 16. From the age of 14, donors can declare a decision by a third party to be effective or object to it. According to the current state of research, it is possible to transplant a relatively large number of organs from the human body. A distinction must be made between organs that can only be obtained from a death donation and those that can be transferred from a living donor. The organ donations registered by the DSO after a death include, for example, pancreas, blood vessels, skin, heart, heart valves, cornea of ​​the eyes, bone tissue, cartilage tissue and much more. (fp)

Also read:
Federal Minister of Health campaigns for organ donation

Picture: Günther Richter /

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