Organ donation

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Organ donation is the removal of the tissues of the human body from a person who has recently died, or from a living donor, for the purpose of transplanting. Organs and tissues are removed in a surgical procedure. People of all ages may be organ and tissue donors. At the time of death the organ, tissue, or eye recovery agency will make a determination, based on the person's medical and social history, of which organs/tissues are suitable for transplantation.

Organ donation typically takes place after brain death, the irreversible loss of all brain functions, including the brain stem. Tissue donation can take place after brain death or cardiac death (the irreversible loss of cardiovascular function). The laws of different countries allow potential donors to permit or refuse donation, or give this choice to relatives. The popularity of donations varies substantially among countries.

Contents

Legislation

Opt-in vs. opt-out

There are two main systems for voluntary systems "opt in" (anyone who has not given consent is not a donor) and "opt out" (anyone who has not refused is a donor). In some systems, family members may be required to give consent or refusal, or may veto a potential recovery even if the donor has consented.

Because of various factors contributing to the rate of transplantations in a country, including the rate of living donors, hospital connectivity, and demand, there is no direct correlation between the legislative system and the rate of donation. While some countries with an opt-out system like Spain (34 donors per million inhabitants) or Austria (21 donors per million inhabitants) have high donor rates and some countries like Germany (16 donors) or Greece (6 donors) with opt-in systems have lower rates, Sweden, which has an opt-out system has a low rate as well (15 donors) figures.[1] Dr Rafael Matesanz, President of the Spanish National Transplant Organisation, has acknowledged Spain's legislative approach is likely not the primary reason for the country's success in increasing the donor rates, starting in the 1990s.[2]

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