Over 400 organ air transport operations in Barcelona airport in 2023

Spanish transplant organization handled almost 1,000 transfers, an all-time high

A Vueling airplane in front of a Level airline plane landed in Barcelona airport on March 24, 2021
A Vueling airplane in front of a Level airline plane landed in Barcelona airport on March 24, 2021 / Lluís Sibils

ACN | @agenciaacn | Barcelona

April 9, 2024 01:46 PM

April 9, 2024 02:11 PM

Barcelona airport was part of 409 organ air transport operations during 2023, as announced by the Spanish transplant organization report published on Tuesday.

Overall, the group handled 974 organ air transport operations in the last year, an all-time high and an 80% increase in 10 years.

Spanish airports intervened on over 2,000 occasions during the different operations, and Madrid airport had the most activity, with 453 operations representing 21% of all. Barcelona followed after with 409 operations.

Among the airlines that participated in operations, 66% were privately owned, and 34% were commercial airlines. In only one case, an overseas airline participated in an organ air transport operation because of the exchange between Spain and third countries.

More kidneys

Since 2016, the number of organ air transport operations has increased by 40% from 695 to 975, a rise mainly due to kidneys.

While there were 132 air operations regarding kidneys in 2016, the number grew to 337 in 2023.

The other organs transported were 265 livers, 205 lungs, 139 hearts, 21 pancreas, and 7 multivisceral grafts.

Trend change

One of the most notorious changes the Spanish transplant organization has recorded is how such organs travel by airplane. 

They were previously accompanied by a medical team. However, 2023 was a breaking point.

Last year, 525 organs, representing 54% of those transported by air, were received and moved by the cabin crew with no medical team on board, while a medical team carried the other 449.