News Briefs: Spain leads world in per-capita organ donation

According to data released at a meeting of transplant surgeons in August in Miami, Spain has the highest per-capita rate of organ donation in the world.

In 2001, 32.5 people per million inhabitants in Spain were organ donors, compared to 21.4 people per 1 million inhabitants in the United States.

Government facilitates donation

In Spain, organ donation has become a well-accepted notion, supported by the government and the national health system, Bernard Cohen, executive director of the Eurotransplant International Foundation told the Miami Herald on Aug. 26.

The Spanish government fully funds education of its physicians and the public on donation and transplantation issues, which have gone a long way to improving rates, he says.

Spain also has adopted presumed-consent legislation, common in several European countries. Under presumed consent, hospitals do not have to seek consent from families for donation. Unless a patient has made arrangements to ensure he or she will not donate, providers assume consent for the procedure.

However, even with these laws, other European countries lag behind the United States: Germany has 12.8 donors per 1 million and Greece has 11 donors per 1 million inhabitants.