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Organ transplantation in Europe - statistics & facts

Organ donation is the practice of removing an organ from one person, either living or dead, and transplanting it to another person. The receiving person is usually in need because of a medical condition or an accident that has damaged their organ, which is no longer working fully or at all. Commonly transplanted organs in Europe are kidney, heart, lung, liver, pancreas, bowel, and corneas. European countries either have an ‘opt-in’ or an ‘opt-out’ system for citizens’ organ donation rights after death. In an opt-in system, the individual must explicitly state they wish to become an organ donor, while in an opt-out scheme a person is assumed to consent to organ donation unless they clearly state they are opposed to it.

What is the most common transplantation procedure?

Spain had the highest rate of all organ transplantations in Europe in 2019 at approximately 115 procedures per million population. The single most common procedure is a kidney transplant, of which Spain also had the highest rate in Europe in 2019. Unlike most other transplant procedures, a living donor can donate one kidney and still live a normal life with their remaining kidney. For the best chance of success, a living kidney donor should be a relative of the person in need of the organ. Indeed, this offers a greater chance of the blood group and tissue type matching. Furthermore, it has been stated that a kidney donated by a living donor has a lower chance of being rejected by the host body than from a deceased donor.

Not enough organ donations to meet demand

Unfortunately, thousands of patients on the waiting list die across Europe annually despite the increasing number of procedures being carried out. For instance, over 800 patients passed away waiting for an organ in Germany in 2019, and 348 died in the United Kingdom. In Europe, the positive point remains that the most likely means to be removed from the waiting list is to have already received a transplant. However, the odds of survival on the heart or liver waiting list are much less favorable in comparison to someone waiting for a kidney transplant. If every country moved towards an opt-out donation arrangement, it may help to reduce the increasing transplant waiting lists.

Key figures

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Rate of transplants

Waiting list

Interesting statistics

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Organ transplantation in Europe

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Organ transplantation in Europe - statistics & facts

Organ donation is the practice of removing an organ from one person, either living or dead, and transplanting it to another person. The receiving person is usually in need because of a medical condition or an accident that has damaged their organ, which is no longer working fully or at all. Commonly transplanted organs in Europe are kidney, heart, lung, liver, pancreas, bowel, and corneas. European countries either have an ‘opt-in’ or an ‘opt-out’ system for citizens’ organ donation rights after death. In an opt-in system, the individual must explicitly state they wish to become an organ donor, while in an opt-out scheme a person is assumed to consent to organ donation unless they clearly state they are opposed to it.

What is the most common transplantation procedure?

Spain had the highest rate of all organ transplantations in Europe in 2019 at approximately 115 procedures per million population. The single most common procedure is a kidney transplant, of which Spain also had the highest rate in Europe in 2019. Unlike most other transplant procedures, a living donor can donate one kidney and still live a normal life with their remaining kidney. For the best chance of success, a living kidney donor should be a relative of the person in need of the organ. Indeed, this offers a greater chance of the blood group and tissue type matching. Furthermore, it has been stated that a kidney donated by a living donor has a lower chance of being rejected by the host body than from a deceased donor.

Not enough organ donations to meet demand

Unfortunately, thousands of patients on the waiting list die across Europe annually despite the increasing number of procedures being carried out. For instance, over 800 patients passed away waiting for an organ in Germany in 2019, and 348 died in the United Kingdom. In Europe, the positive point remains that the most likely means to be removed from the waiting list is to have already received a transplant. However, the odds of survival on the heart or liver waiting list are much less favorable in comparison to someone waiting for a kidney transplant. If every country moved towards an opt-out donation arrangement, it may help to reduce the increasing transplant waiting lists.

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