More people signed up as organ donors one year into new registration system


A year after the introduction of the ‘opt out’ organ donor registration system more potential donors have been registered but the number of organ transplants has not increased, broadcaster NOS reports.

The main contributing factor was the coronavirus crisis, which kept potential donors indoors and safe from potentially lethal accidents, Farid Abdo, chairman of the donor commission of the Dutch intensive care association, told the broadcaster.

Dutch transplant association NTS said the good news is that many more people than expected, 76% instead of 60%, have now registered their choice. Some 34% said they would donate, while 31% registered a refusal to donate their organs.

Over three million people have not registered a preference at all, and, according to the new rules, they too are now registered as donors.

Waiting lists remain long but this has nothing to do with the donor registration system, Abdo said.

‘There are many factors which influence that, for instance, people who give away a kidney to a relative,’ he said. ‘That is something that happens a lot in the Netherlands but which could not go ahead during the pandemic.’

The effect of the donor registration law on the number of organ donations will not become clear for a number of years, the NTS said.

‘Everyone has to get used to the new system. Not registering a preference at all is now considered a sign for doctors to go ahead with a transplant and relatives need to understand that. Doctors will have to have that conversation with them and they need training to do that. It will take time,’ Abdo said.

Among the people who have not registered at all are many young people and immigrants who do not know about the system.

From 2024 all newcomers and 18-year-olds will receive a monthly letter pointing out how the system works.

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