University of Barcelona leads way in organ donation initiative
Project aims to raise awareness and ultimately increase number of donors in EU and neighbouring countries
The University of Barcelona (UB) is leading a European Union initiative aimed at promoting organ donation and inspiring more people to sign up as donors.
The Eudonorgan program, which this Monday held its first session at the university’s Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, intends to improve education and awareness about organ donation between member states.
As it stands, an estimated 87,000 people in Europe are currently on the waiting list to receive organs. Eudonorgan says that by multiplying the present number of donors by three, this figure could be covered.
According to Eudonorgan director Martí Manyalich, the project’s objectives are “to train professionals and raise awareness among the population.”
In a press conference held on Monday, Manyalich ascertained that the EU has a low level of organ donation, with 15 donors per 1 million inhabitants. Spain, on the other hand, has the highest donation rate in the world, with 43 donors out of every 1 million people, while Catalonia carries out the most kidney donations in Europe.
“The Spanish model must be extended to other countries,” said José Ramon Núñez Peña, Medical Director of the World Health Organisation’s Donor and Transplant Program.
"Citizens must be aware that they can be donors and recipients at any time"
José Ramon Núñez Peña · World Health Organisation
The keys to Spain's success, according to Núñez Peña, are “organisation, continuous training of professionals, and their credibility among the population.”
What makes the difference in other countries, he suggested, is how credible their medical professionals are deemed to be.
“In Nordic countries,” he said, “more than 90% of the population say they would be a donor after dying, but less than 50% of the population end up doing so.”
In Spain it is a different story. Only 50% say they would do it, he said, but 85% of possible candidates end up becoming donors after speaking to a professional.
“Citizens must be aware that they can be donors and recipients at any time,” he also stated.
Demand for organ transplants is increasing, medical professionals warn, due to the growing number of people affected by diabetes, hypertension, or cardiovascular disease.
90% of people worldwide do not have access to transplant organs, whilst only 0.05% of people sign up to donate organs after death. In order to cover existing demand, Martí Manyalich considers that the current amount of viable donors would need to be multiplied by ten.