In Germany, 8,500 men, women and children are waiting for a vital donor organ. At the same time, there are fewer donor organs. This is the result of information from the German Foundation for Organ Transplantation (DSO) – the DSO is appealing to German citizens on the day of organ donation on June 4th to deal more intensively with the topic.
The transplant centers of the clinics take care of living donations, while the DSO deals with organs removed postmortem. And that was almost 180 organ donations nationwide in the first quarter of 2022, 30 percent less than in the same period last year. In April and May, individual doctors from Berlin report that the trend continued.
Possibly, said a hospital manager in Berlin, the downturn has something to do with the fact that “so many other things” are currently at stake both in the healthcare system and in general public awareness: the Ukraine war, inflation, housing shortages.
In any case, figures for 2021 made many doctors optimistic: organ donations remained at the 2019 level despite the corona crisis. In the Omicron wave at the turn of the year 2022, many doctors and nurses were absent due to infections. This could also have contributed to the fact that fewer organs were removed in the clinics. Organs from the deceased infected with Corona were excluded from donation anyway.
Doctors also use living donations. As in the case of Nora Northmann. The Berlin graphic designer donated one of her kidneys to her husband in 2017. Northmann is presenting her autobiographical novel “Happily Half Is Enough” on Saturday at the “Brotfabrik” in Berlin-Weißensee.
In Berlin, the number of organ donors and donated organs had already fallen in the second year of the pandemic. In 2021, organs were removed from 49 donors after their death, in 2020 there were 52 donors and in 2019 there were still 55 donors, as the DSO announced. The number of organs donated also fell: from 165 in 2019 to 135 in 2021.
Author Northmann appealed before the day of organ donation to take care of an organ donor card. Around 44 percent of Germans have documented their willingness to have an organ removed in the event of death in an organ donation card or a living will. In an emergency, doctors know whether or not they can remove certain organs from a deceased person.
This number is higher than a few years ago, but not high enough for most experts. In 2019, the Bundestag rejected the legal introduction of an opt-out solution, which health experts had hoped would lead to higher donor numbers.
In that case, an organ removal would have had to be explicitly rejected, otherwise, in the event of death, organs needed for other patients would have been removed. In Germany, as before, only those deceased may also be an organ donor who expressly consented to this during their lifetime.
Hospitals must employ an organ donor officer. These doctors should identify possible donors and train the clinic staff accordingly. According to information from the Tagesspiegel, however, not all hospitals release their representatives for this work, despite the legal situation to the contrary.
Kidneys are on the waiting list, followed by liver and heart. Data from the Federal Center for Health Education shows that Germans generally consider organ donation to be sensible: 84 percent of those surveyed rated organ and tissue donations positively, compared to 78 percent ten years ago.