A national campaign has been launched in Switzerland to get people to talk about the “sensitive topic” of organ donation as a way of boosting the number of potential donors.
At the end of June there were 1,500 patients on the waiting list and dozens of people die every year because there is no donor organ available, the Federal Office of Health said on Tuesday.
More than 80% of people are in favour of organ donation in Switzerland, but the number of actual donations is falling, it added. In 2015 there were 17.4 donors per million inhabitants – in the first half of 2016 this dropped to 11.7 per million. The government’s aim is 20 donors per million.
At present an organ may only be taken when the person affected or relatives have given their agreement.
Last year parliament discussed presumed consent – whether it should be possible for organs to be donated after death unless someone had specifically forbidden it. This was voted down for ethical reasons.
However, it was agreed that an action plan should be launched to counter the organ shortage, including the present information campaignexternal link, which is being run with the non-profit Swisstransplantexternal link.
Informing loved ones
This aims to get people talking about the topic and to make a decision whether they are for or against organ donation – and, a key part of the campaign, to tell people about it.
This makes it easier for relatives to decide what to do should the need arise, the health office said.
At present many people don’t inform their loved ones of their intentions and the family vetoes donation in half of all cases, it explained.
The campaign, which will run for four years and cost CHF1.65 million ($1.68 million), is being carried out via posters but also on social media and televisionexternal link.
swissinfo.ch and agencies