Organ donation and transplantation in Spain - statistics & facts
Spain stands out for being a worldwide reference in organ donation and transplantation. In 2020, the country reached a transplantation rate of 92.2 patients per million inhabitants, second only to the United States, which achieved more than 116 transplanted patients per million population. A large part of Spain's success comes down to the activity of the National Transplant Organization (ONT) and the implementation of the so-called Spanish model. This model comprises a series of measures aimed at encouraging organ donation and has made possible to greatly increase the number of donors since it was first introduced. In fact, several countries have adopted this model to a greater or lesser extent.
COVID-19 slows down transplantation activity
In 2019, the number of organ transplantations performed in Spain reached the maximum figure ever recorded in the country. However, due to the overwhelm of the health system caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the number of transplanted patients fell sharply in 2020. A total of 4,427 transplantations were performed during that year, around one thousand fewer than in 2019. For the first time since 2016, the country registered under five thousand organ transplants. Though the number of transplants did increase in 2021, it has not reached its 2019 levels.
Transplants by type
As is the case globally, Kidney transplants are by far the most common type of organ transplant in Spain, followed by liver transplants. In 2021, 2,950 kidney transplants and more than one thousand liver transplants were performed in the country. Regarding the distribution by autonomous communities, Catalonia was the region that performed the highest number of kidney, lung, and pancreas transplantations in 2020, while the Community of Madrid was the lead in the area of heart transplants, and Andalusia in the case of liver transplants.
Post-mortem organ donation in Spain
Spain is the country with the highest number of post mortem donors per million inhabitants. Under the current legislation, those who have not declared their opposition to organ donation are considered potential donors. In practice, families are always consulted to find out whether the patient wanted to become a donor. There are not many families that oppose donation. In fact, according to a survey carried out in 2018, only 8 percent of the Spanish population disagreed with the hypothetical donation of their organs after their death.
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