A mobile app has been developed in Switzerland to help address a nationwide organ shortage. The new donor card function is believed to be a world first.
It allows donor information to automatically display on the home screen of smartphones brought into an emergency room – even if the screen is locked.
Anaesthesiologist Jocelyn Corniche of Lausanne University Hospital worked on the Echo112 app with support from Swisstransplant, the organisation in charge of organ allocation in Switzerland.
“We hope that this new technology will contribute to a significant increase in the number of people who state their preferences” with regard to organ donation, said Swisstransplant director Franz Immer. “We’re convinced that a digital strategy is needed to alert the public to the lack of a sufficient number of donor organs.”
Each year in Switzerland 100 people who are in need of an organ die, and more than 1,000 are currently on the waiting list for a transplant.
It’s not the first time Swisstransplant has taken to technology to improve organ donation. In a 2012 campaign it partnered with Facebook, which allowed users to state on their timelines that they supported organ donation. Swiss donors were able to follow a link from Facebook to order a donor card from Swisstransplant.
The new electronic donor card builds on an existing Echo112 app, also developed by Corniche. Echo112 enables people in need of emergency services to notify the nearest rescue service of their whereabouts by pressing a button on their smartphone. It has been downloaded by more than 350,000 people in Switzerland.
Switzerland’s donation rate – 12.8 per million inhabitants in 2013 – is one of the lowest in Europe; it’s one third the rate in Spain (at 35.3 per million the highest in Europe) and one half the rate in France (24.8 per million).