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Transplants Swisstransplant launches online organ donor register

Transplant operation in Zurich

A heart transplant operation at the Zurich Children's Hospital in 2011

(Keystone)

An online national organ donor register has been launched in Switzerland by the foundation Swisstransplant. 

The new online registerexternal link is intended to be a practical alternative to the traditional donor card system. It will allow relatives to know for certain whether a family member who passes away really wanted to donate their organs, Swisstransplant, the national foundation for organ transplants and donations, told a media conference on Monday. 

Around half of all patients who die in intensive care in hospitals do not let their relatives know if they wish to pass on their healthy organs. Only 5% of the deceased have a donor card with them. And in 60% of cases, relatives refuse to allow the organs of a deceased relative to be removed due to uncertainties, the foundation says. 

“Signing up to the secure register is optional, and can be reversed at any time,” explained Swisstransplant Director Franz Immer. Registration is done online but confirmed via a signature on a scanned document. Anyone over the age of 16 who is a resident of Switzerland or Liechtenstein may sign up. 

+ Organ donations increasing but still insufficient

Last year, a record number of organs from deceased donors were transplanted in Switzerland. The Federal Health Officeexternal link said in January that 145 people had agreed to provide one or several organs upon their death. In addition, 137 live donors had given a kidney or part of their liver. In total, 440 patients were able to benefit last year. 

While the number of donors is slowly increasing in Europe, Switzerland remains in the bottom third for organ donations. At the end of last year, 1,478 patients were still on the transplant waiting list. 

A people’s initiative was launched last October aimed at promoting organ donations. If successful in a nationwide vote, organ donations would be based on presumed consent, reversing the current “opt-in” policy, which requires explicit consent by potential donors. 

Keystone SDA/sb

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