Fewer organ donors during the corona crisis

Dhe number of organ donors fell slightly again last year. As the German Foundation for Organ Transplantation (DSO) announced on Thursday, 913 people donated one or more organs after their death. That was 19 people fewer than in 2019, but significantly more than in the years 2013 to 2017. In 2020 there were eleven donors for every million inhabitants. In 2019 there were 11.2 donors.

A particularly large number of organ donors came from the DSO region East (Saxony, Saxony-Anhalt, Thuringia). There the proportion was 15.5 donors per million inhabitants, followed by the central region (Hesse, Rhineland-Palatinate, Saarland) with 12.5 and the north-east region (Berlin, Brandenburg, Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania) with 11.8 . The other four regions were below the national average. Last place behind North (Bremen, Hamburg, Lower Saxony, Schleswig-Holstein) with 10.2, Bavaria (10.0) and North Rhine-Westphalia (9.7) was Baden-Württemberg (9.6).

14,000 patients are on the waiting list

There was also only a slight decrease in the number of organs removed post-mortem, which could be assigned to patients on waiting lists by the international mediation agency Eurotransplant (ET) based in Leiden, the Netherlands. While there were 2995 organs in 2019, their number fell to 2941 last year.Among other things, 1447 kidneys, 746 livers, 342 lungs, 320 hearts, 79 pancreas and seven intestines were removed. “Each of the 913 donors thus gave an average of more than three seriously ill patients the chance of a new life,” said the DSO.

Members of Eurotransplant are Belgium, Germany, Croatia, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Austria, Slovenia and Hungary with a total of 37 million inhabitants. Around 14,000 patients are currently on the central waiting list. There were around 9,200 in the 46 German transplant centers alone. According to this, 3,016 organs were transferred there last year, which was 176 fewer organs than in 2019. The decline in transplants was greater than the number of organ donations in Germany, because the corona pandemic in some other ET member countries caused the percentage to be in double figures There were losses so that overall fewer organs were available. This particularly affected lung and kidney transplants. In this country, 2,845 recipients received one or more organs – i.e. only every third patient who was on the waiting list for a transplant in Germany.

According to the DSO, at the beginning of 2020 there was “a significant increase” in the number of organ donations. However, after the outbreak of the Sars-CoV-2 pandemic, it did not stop during the year. According to the DSO, the fact that organ donation and transplantation could continue successfully in Germany despite Corona was also due to the new donor identification guideline, which came into force in September 2020: It stipulates that doctors and transplant officers in the removal hospitals should already be expected at the time of one or suspected brain dysfunction determine the possible desire for an organ donation, which requires early discussions with relatives.


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