BThere are signs of a decline in the number of organ donations in Germany for the current year. Between January and October, only 710 organ donors were registered nationwide, 65 fewer than in the same period last year. The German Foundation for Organ Transplantation (DSO) announced the decline was more than eight percent on Thursday in Frankfurt at the beginning of its annual congress. The number of organs that Germany was able to offer within the European network Eurotransplant was 2178 in the first ten months. In the same period last year there were 2420. This corresponds to a decrease of ten percent.
As the foundation writes in a statement, the shortage of organs has “worsened even further” compared to the previous year. According to Eurotransplant, almost 8,500 patients in Germany were on the waiting list for a donor organ at the beginning of the year. According to the DSO, the number of organs from the European network that could be used in patients in Germany fell between January and October from 2492 last year to 2293 this year. This corresponds to a minus of eight percent. Seriously ill patients in Germany who are dependent on a donor organ are increasingly benefiting from foreign donors. In addition to Germany, the largest donor and recipient country, Eurotransplant also includes the Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg, Austria, Slovenia, Hungary and Croatia.
In the meantime, corona infected organs can be removed
After a significant slump in the number of donations in Germany at the beginning of the year, a “certain recovery and stabilization” can now be observed, says Axel Rahmel, the DSO board member responsible for medicine. “Overall, however, the situation remains extremely depressing, especially for patients on the waiting lists and their relatives.” At the beginning of the year, the comparatively high incidence of corona led to a decline in organ removals in German hospitals.
It was not only controversial at times whether patients infected with corona, in whom the irreversible loss of brain functions was found, are basically suitable as organ donors. Experts now answer this question in the affirmative in most cases, since the end of February organ donation has been possible in principle despite infection. As the German Press Agency reports, citing figures from the DSO, a total of 39 donors were infected with Corona by the end of October. 114 organs were removed from them and transplanted into 113 recipients. “There was not a single transmission of a Sars-CoV-2 infection from the donor to the recipient,” Rahmel told the agency.
Bottlenecks at clinics
According to the DSO, there have also been large staff shortages in the clinics – especially since the omicron variant of the virus has become dominant in Germany. “After organ donations increased slightly in the summer months, the coordination center has recorded a stabilization at a low level in the past few weeks,” reports the DSO. The number of clinics contacting the foundation, which is mandatory before any organ removal, has increased compared to the previous year, but has not led to more donations.
According to the German Hospital Society (DKG), bottlenecks within the clinics are a major reason for the decline in numbers. “Due to the ongoing burdens of the coronavirus pandemic, the existing challenges posed by the shortage of skilled workers in the healthcare system are now having an even greater impact and are making important tasks such as promoting organ donation in the clinics more difficult,” says Gerald Gaß, CEO of the hospital company. More money and less bureaucracy could help to improve the staff shortage. Around 1,200 hospitals nationwide are able to remove organs for transplantation.