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Organ donations and transplants in Latin America - statistics & facts

Despite some countries' efforts to increase organ donations, the practice of donating organs in Latin America is still uncommon, with rates ranging between two and 22 organ donors per million people in 2018. Brazil is the country with the largest number of organ donors in the region, with more than 15 thousand potential and effective donors in 2019. However, the willingness of Brazilians to donate family member’s organs has remained relatively steady in recent years, with over one third of families not willing to give away a relative's organ.

Long waiting lists

It is because of this unwillingness to donate that many people in Latin America spend protracted periods on waiting lists for organ transplants. In Argentina, for example, nearly 34 percent of those on donation waiting lists have been waiting for three or more years to receive a needed organ. While the majority of those on waiting lists for organ transplants in Argentina were either middle-aged or elderly, approximately 13 percent of patients on waiting lists for organ transplants were under the age of 30.

Most needed organ transplants

As of 2019, kidney is the organ with the highest number of waiting patients in Latin American countries: almost 30 thousand in Brazil, more than 17 thousand in Mexico, and around 2.6 thousand in Colombia had a chronic kidney disease and are in the need of a transplant. Cornea, at the same time, is the type of tissue with the highest number of waiting patients in the region: around 13 thousand in Brazil, as well as more than 5.7 thousand in Mexico suffered from a chronic cornea disorder and are waiting for a transplant.

Latin America on a global perspective

As a result, the number of organ transplants in the region is somewhat low compared with other nations. For example, the rate of Latin American patients having received an organ transplant ranged from a high of 59 patients per million population in both Mexico and Uruguay, to a low of 1.2 patients per million population in Venezuela. This compared with transplant rates in other nations, such as 107.9 patients per million population in the U.S., 71.8 patients per million population in Australia, and 46.5 patient per million population in Germany. In terms of the total number of organ transplants performed, Brazil carried out more of these medical procedures than any other Latin American country in 2019.

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Organ donations and transplants in Latin America

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