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Organ donors reach "alarmingly low" levels

Switzerland is near the bottom of Europe when it comes to organ donation, according to Swisstransplant, the country's organ donation and transplantation foundation.

The organ shortage resulted in 1,544 patients sitting on waiting lists in 2008 - up from 1,381 in 2007 - with 62 people dying because a suitable organ could not be found.

The figures were released on Friday at the annual meeting of the Swiss transplantation society in Interlaken.

Swisstransplant director Franz Immer said Switzerland was once again bringing up the rear in Europe with only 11.8 organ donors per million inhabitants. Looking at neighbouring countries, he said this figure should be almost twice as high. Only Greece had a lower rate.

Immer added that such a situation in a country like Switzerland was no longer tenable.

"Our knowledge of transplantation surgery and medical treatment is world-class," he said. "What's missing are the desperately needed organs."

The main organs transplanted are kidneys, livers, lungs and hearts. However, hands, entire arms, corneas, bones and skin are also in demand.

In 2009 Swisstransplant is planning on increasing the level of organ donation awareness among the population. "Every donated organ can save a life," it said.

It will launch various information campaigns for the public and targeted training for doctors in hospitals.

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