SPAIN’S  SHINING RECORD IN ORGAN DONATION & TRANSPLANT, A TWO-PART SERIES: (1) One in Four EU Donors are from Spain

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The worldwide success of Spanish donation and transplantation knows no peer, which,
according to the Acting Minister of Health, José Miñones, “is a source of pride.”

 

A GUIDEPOST Report
Source: La Moncloa, Gobierno de España

 

Twenty-four percent of all organ donors in the European Union, and the world’s 5%, were Spanish

In 2023, the then acting Minister of Health, José Miñones, enthusiastically commended the work of Spain’s health professionals and the solidarity of Spanish society which gave rise to the remarkable situation in which, the year before, 24% of all organ donors in the European Union, and the world’s 5%, were Spanish.

Health Minister Miñones during the celebration of the National Day of Organ Donors on 7 June 2023: Proud of  Spain’s extraordinary record as a global leader in donations and organ transplantations

One in four deceased organ donors in the European Union were from Spain. Moreover, one in five transplants in the European region was performed in Spain. Spain is the world leader in organ donation from deceased persons and, in terms of transplant activity, the United States is the only country that has surpassed Spain, according to the report from the Global Observatory on Donation and Transplantation which is managed by the Spanish Ministry of Health’s National Transplant Organization, a coordinating agency of the World Health Organization.

Praising Spain’s leadership in organ donations and transplantations, the acting Minister of Health expressed his deep gratitude to “the work of the professionals involved in every phase of the donation and transplantation process, as well as the coordination of the National Transplant Organization and the regional governments” of Spain. He applauded “the solidarity of Spanish society and the greatness of the families who every day say yes to donations that allow many lives to be saved or improved.” He added:  “They are the protagonists of the worldwide success of the Spanish donation and transplantation model.”

 

SPAIN WITHIN THE GLOBAL DONOR-TRANSPLANT FRAMEWORK

Based on the reports that were in by 23 August 2023, the Global Observatory says  157,540 organ transplantations were performed in 2022 in the 91 countries of which transplants were kidney, liver, heart, lung, pancreas and intestine from either living and/or deceased donors. Global organ transplant activity grew by 9% over the previous year, reflecting the significant effort made by many countries to restore organ-transplant programs after the impact of COVID-19.

Monument to organ donors funded by the townfolk in the Plaza de la Solidaridad, Malaga

In 2022, the number of deceased donors increased overall by 10%. The number of donors in asystole or cardiac arrest increased from 8,545 in 2021 to 9,545 in 2022, an increase of 12%. This confirms the important role asystole donors played in the increase of organ donation. Spain had the highest activity in the field, accounting for half of all non-heart-beating donors in the EU and 10% across the world. Spain is the only country that performs all types of transplants from asystole donors and, as in the previous year, the one with the highest transplant activity of this type.

A National Day of Organ Donors poster

Spain is a world leader, which is a source of pride,” said Miñones.

A report of the Global Observatory reflects Spain’s important contribution to organ donation: last year, Spain accounted for 24% of organ donations in the EU and 5% of those recorded across the world, despite the fact that Spain represents only 11% of the European population and 0.6% of the world’s population. This extraordinary success shows how robust the Spanish model is, one that is based on a management system whose fundamental pillar is anchored to the transplant coordinator – mainly an intensive care doctor — and the generosity of the Spanish society. The Spanish model relies on the transplant coordinators to make donation happen when a patient dies in conditions that allow organ donation. Crucial to this is the support given by the National Transplant Organization and regional coordination offices to the professionals in their work.

“Donate Life” float at a Rose Parade, Pasadena, Calif: with 47 donors per million people (PMP) Spain is the country with the highest organ donation activity in the world, followed by the United States with 44.5 donors PMP.

At the rate of 47 donors per million people in 2022, Spain remains the country with the highest donation activity globally, followed by the United States, with 44.5 donors per million people. In terms of transplantation activity, Spain reached a rate of 115.3 transplants per million people in 2022, a figure only surpassed by the United States, with 130.7 transplants. The increase in donations in the United States in recent years is closely linked to  deaths from drug overdose consequent to the socio-health crisis that has hit the country hard. Whereas donors who die of drug overdose are an exception in Spain, in the United States 17% of donors die as a result of this cause.

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Images
> Featured image (Guidepost collage): AI-generated heart/Kashif Malik, Pixabay.
Spanish flag/Efraim Stochter, flipped. Pixabay.
>EU flag, PD via Wikimedia Commons. Cropped, framed.

> Health Minister Miñones/Pool Moncloa
> Organ Donor monument/Daniel Capilla, 2 December 2022, CC BY-SA4.0, Wikimedia Commons
> National Day of Organ Donors poster/La Moncloa Gobierno de España
> “Donate Life” float (2005)/Thank You, Flickr, CC BY2.0