Spain: World Leader In Organ Donation

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by Elaa Abdeltawab

Posted on February 15, 2019


Spain: World Leader In Organ Donation

Spain has been the world leader when it comes to organ donations for 26 years. The number of Spanish organ donors has risen with at least 30% last year compared to 4 years ago.

Spain has a total of 14 transplants per day; that is 5110 per year. A number of 2183 organ donors donated their kidneys, livers, hearts or lungs last year. These numbers show that Spain has the most organ donations in the world. Spain is not just the world leader in organ donations; the number of organ donations in Spain is a lot higher than the world’s average numbers. Every 1 million citizens have 46.8 donors in Spain, while the average number of organ donors in Europe is 21.5 per 1 million citizens. 

The Spanish Donor Law.

Back in 1979, the Spanish government introduced a new Donor Law. The Spanish government allowed hospitals to remove organs after death is declared and to use them for therapeutic and scientific purposes. By introducing this law, everyone automatically became a donor, unless the person expressed disapproval to family members before passing away. After the patient has been declared dead by 3 doctors, the family members will be asked whether consent for organ donation was given. Additionally, a judge’s permission is required. This means that there is no written disapproval letter needed. This has led to a positive increase in the number of donor donations.

Other countries

The opt-out system, which makes everyone an organ donor, is now being introduced in other countries. Italy, Croatia, Belgium, France, Sweden, Finland, Portugal and Austria have recently followed Spain's example to increase the number of organ donors. European countries with an opt-out system have much better results than other countries.

However, this system would not be suitable in every country. South-European citizens live in a collectivist society. Unlike in the West-European individualistic cultures, self-sacrifice and helping others in your community are of great importance in the South-European cultures. This is another reason why the number of organ donations is higher in Spain, which is characterised by a collectivistic culture.


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