Federal government calls for organ donation



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In the future, health insurance companies will be asked to be willing to donate organs

Since Thursday (March 1st) it has been clear: From summer there will be a new regulation in the organ donation question. After a long debate with many setbacks, top representatives and politicians of all parliamentary groups as well as the federal government agreed that the insured should be asked in writing by both statutory and private health insurance companies every two years about their willingness to donate organs.

Willingness to donate organs should be stated every two years From summer, health insurers should inquire about the willingness to donate organs from their insured persons every two years. For this purpose, a questionnaire with organ donation card will be sent. The insured can specify in detail whether and if so which organs should be donated after the death of the brain. Answering the questions is voluntary. This means that every citizen is free to ignore the sheet and organ donation card, provided they do not want to make any statements regarding their willingness to donate organs. With this new query system, experts hope for a significant increase in willingness to donate. If it is technically feasible, the information should also be found in an electronic field on the electronic health card. The insured person could then enter the willingness to donate himself or have this done by the doctor or health insurance.

According to a survey, three quarters of all Germans are ready to donate one or more organs. So far, only a quarter have an organ donation card, as adults have so far had to actively give their consent. Instead of a donation card, a clear statement can be made to the relatives. If there is no clear written or oral statement about organ donation, relatives have to make this decision for the person concerned, which is currently the case in nine out of ten brain deaths. But since these are emotionally overwhelmed in such a situation, the decision is often made against organ donation for fear of doing something against the will of the deceased.

Previously low willingness to donate organs in Germany The willingness to donate to date is so low, among other things, because many people still believe that in an emergency, doctors would not take sufficient care to save their lives in order to be able to remove the organs. According to a survey by the Barmer and Bertelsmann Foundation, 45 percent of Germans fear this. Of course, doctors are always obliged to take all measures to save life. In addition, organ donation is only possible if two doctors have independently determined the brain death of a person. Only then can the liver, kidney, heart, lungs, pancreas and small intestine be donated.

Around 12,000 people in Germany currently require organ donation. Without a transplant, they cannot survive despite dialysis, heart pump and other measures. Last year, 4054 people received a donor organ. In 2010 there were 4,326 patients. These numbers make it easy to see that there are far fewer organs available than are urgently needed. According to the German Organ Transplantation Foundation (DSO), a person who is on the waiting list for organ donation dies every eight hours. 14.6 donors currently have one million citizens in Germany. This puts the Federal Republic in the lower third internationally. A person can donate up to seven seriously ill organs.

Living donations are only possible in exceptional cases. Healthy people can only donate organs in exceptional cases. This would be the case, for example, if a close relative urgently needs a kidney and no other donor organ is available. Due to the lack of organs, there has been an increase in living donations in recent years. A prominent example is SPD parliamentary group leader Frank-Walter Steinmeier, who donated a kidney to his wife in 2010.

In principle, organ donations are not paid in Germany. Among other things, this is to prevent organ trafficking in which the poorest are always the losers. Potential organ donors are people who have had brain death before cardiac arrest. Only about one percent of the roughly 400,000 people who die in clinics in the Federal Republic are affected by this. Brain death is understood to mean the state in which the human brain no longer shows any currents or reflexes. The heart only keeps beating due to artificial ventilation in the intensive care unit. Strokes, traumatic brain injuries and bleeding in the brain are often triggers for brain death.

Eurotransplant is responsible for the allocation of organs Germany is a member of the Eurotransplant Foundation, which is also responsible for the allocation of organs in Belgium, Croatia, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Austria and Slovenia. Eurotransplant, based in Leiden, is in constant contact with national companies, transplant centers, laboratories and hospitals. Four aspects are decisive when deciding whether to donate organs: the chances of success of a transplant, the urgency, the length of waiting and the national organ exchange balance. In Germany, transplantation is coordinated by the German Organ Transplantation Foundation (DSO) in Frankfurt.

More Germans willing to donate organs than expected A representative survey by the Bertelsmann Stiftung and Barmer GEK in April 2011 showed that the willingness to donate in Germany is higher than the real number of transplants would be expected. For the evaluation, 1,778 people were asked about their willingness to donate organs. 69 percent of those questioned stated that it would be assumed that a new regulation on organ donation would increase the general willingness to donate. 66 percent of respondents said that they would very likely actually consent to organ donation. Of those surveyed who do not currently have an organ donation card, 60 percent would or probably would agree to an organ donation. (ag)

Read on:
Relatives often overwhelmed with organ donation
Willingness to donate organs increases
Cash registers should query readiness for organ donation
Organ donations reach record levels in Germany
Federal Minister of Health campaigns for organ donation
Organ donation: majority for decision-making
Too little organ donation from young accident victims

Image: Günther Richter / pixelio.de

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