More people should decide whether they wish to become a potential organ donor and the hospitals should introduce pathways. These are two of the recommendations of a working group headed by the Danish Health and Medicines Authority that has made recommendations for an action plan to increase the number of organ donors.
Danes have a positive view on organ donation. According to a previous study from the Danish Health and Medicines Authority, just under 90% of the population have a positive attitude towards organ donation, and around 80% are willing to donate an organ.
It is not just in theory that the Danes have a positive approach to organ donation. The vast majority of relatives say yes when a doctor asks for permission to use organs from a dying family member in an intensive care unit. Only 20% say no, figures from the Organ Donations Database show. Nevertheless, there has been a shortage of organs in Denmark for several years, and today about 400 sick people are on a waiting list for a kidney, lung or other organ transplant.
The working group suggests that hospitals should be better at examining the possibility of organ donation among dying patients. This implies, among other things, a change of relevant guidance from professional companies, so that it will become standard practice in all hospitals that doctors do not stop treatment of dying patients, with for example extensive brain damage, until it has been examined whether the patient can become an organ donor.
Focus is also on how to get more organs from living donors. The working group recommends that hospitals introduce harmonised pathways so that for example family members of a kidney patient can be informed quickly if their kidneys are suitable for transplantation and a donation can take place.
In addition, the report proposes initiatives to get more people to decide whether they want to become potential donors. The working group recommends that websites, mobile phones and tablets are used for this purpose.
Danish Minister for Health Astrid Krag will discuss the recommendations with the parties of the Danish Parliament and expects to present a new national action plan on organ donation later this year.
The working group's recommendations for an action plan on organ donation (2014) (in Danish)