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Swiss patients await organ donors

Almost 500 people were awaiting an organ transplant in Switzerland last year Keystone Archive

The number of patients requiring an organ transplant is on the rise in Switzerland, while donors are becoming more rare.

This content was published on February 2, 2002 - 15:22

Last January, 468 people were registered on waiting lists for organ transplants - while an average of 100 donors were available in Switzerland for the year.

Although a large majority of Swiss (80 per cent) are in favour of transplants, only 11 per cent carry an organ donor card.

"There is a lot of misinformation in the general population, which results in fear," the head of transplantation, immunology and nephrology at Basel cantonal hospital, Jürg Steiger, told swissinfo. "So our aim is to inform the general population."

The number of donors varies strongly between Western countries, which share the same culture, says Steiger.

"Germany and the German-speaking part of Switzerland are not keen on organ donation," says Steiger. "In Spain, there are about five times more donors."

The lack of organs is also due to medical advances and stricter driving laws, which have reduced the number of potential donors.

Types of donations

Steiger makes the distinction between "living" and post-mortem donation. The first usually concerns donations to a family member or a friend.

"These people usually make a snap decision," explains Steiger. "In Basel, about 50 per cent of transplants are of this kind."

In 2000, 50 people died because they failed to have a transplant. Patients waiting for a kidney face delays of up to three years.

This is why doctors and patient organisations have formed "Sharelife", a cyber platform aimed at providing information concerning transplantations and organ donation.

swissinfo with agencies

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