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Public Health (25-04-2014)

EU Member States make good progress on organ donation and transplantation, finds Commission report

The Mid-term review of the Action Plan on Organ Donation and Transplantation (2009-2015) published today by the European Commission, points to good progress in EU Member States. Overall, the report confirms an increase in both organ availability and the number of transplantations (2007: 28 080 patients transplanted; 2012: 30 274). However, significant differences exist between EU countries, underlining the need for further efforts. Also worrying is that despite the progress made, in 2012 alone more than 4000 patients on waiting lists in the EU died before receiving a suitable organ.

Since the launch of the Action Plan in 2009, most EU countries have recognised the central role of donor transplant coordinators in their transplant system. Depending on the national set-up, donor transplant coordinators help identify potential donors, establish contact with the family of potential donors, liaise with potential recipients and organise the complex logistics from donation to transplantation.

Another positive finding is that the efforts of Member States have led to an increase in deceased donation rates. The EU contributed significantly to this success by co-funding training programmes for donor transplant coordinators under the Public Health Programme.

Most Member States have also set up living donor transplant programmes – an important source for additional organs. Donation of organs from living donors leads to particularly good health outcomes, and these programmes are very well established in a number of EU countries. Successful programmes must protect living donors effectively (medical follow-up). In this respect, the EU has facilitated the sharing of experiences between EU countries, supported them in establishing registers and methodologies to follow-up donors, and developed a manual for authorities setting up living donation programmes.

The report also outlines the work for the remainder of the Action Plan (2014-2015). At European level the focus will be on living donation and the international exchange of organs, in particular organs retrieved in a Member State where they cannot be used. These organs should not be wasted but sent to neighbouring countries for transplantation. Such collaborations may also lead to the development of new transplant programmes where they are not yet available.

At national level the report invites Member States, amongst others, to maintain/increase efforts on donor transplant coordinators, to introduce quality improvement programmes, to improve communication skills of health care professionals and public authorities and to evaluate post-transplant results.

Background

The Action Plan on organ donation and transplantation complements the Directive (2010/53/EU) on standards of quality and safety of human organs intended for transplantation. Set out as ten priority actions, the Plan aims to address three main challenges: increasing organ availability, enhancing the efficiency and accessibility of transplant systems and improving quality and safety.

To read the full report and for more information on EU action on organ donation and transplantation: http://ec.europa.eu/health/blood_tissues_organs/organs/index_en.htm