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Scandals unsettle German organ donors

The head of Germany's organ transplant foundation has confirmed that a recent clinic scandal has resulted in less donors contributing to life-saving operations. He has called for full clarification to restore confidence.

The medical director of the German Organ Transplantation Foundation (DSO), Günter Kirste, on Wednesday highlighted the difficulties plaguing organ transplant teams in the German healthcare sector.

In an interview with the German newspaper "Neue Osnabrücker Zeitung" published on Wednesday, Kirste said addressing organ transplant issues was "all the more urgent: each individual donor organ can save the life of a seriously ill person."

The DSO director admitted that a recent decline in the number of Germans offering their organs for transplant operations was mainly due to recent scandals. Kirste said that recent allegations of waiting-list data manipulation had massively shaken patient confidence and that falling donor transplant figures represented “people's noticeable uncertainty, which should be taken very seriously.”

Such scandals include a recent case of a physician at the university hospitals of Göttingen and Regensburg falsifying the medical records of patients, so that they could obtain donor organs quicker.

Patients suffer in the end

The DSO representative also said that it was ultimately the patients waiting for organ donations who suffered as a result of such scandals.

"Transparency and trust are important parameters in the area of organ donation and transplantation," Kirste said.

"When there are doubts about the transparency of the transplantation process, patients on the waiting list suffer. They have to wait longer, perhaps in vain, for a life-saving transplant."

From January to September this year 829 organ donors were counted in Germany. That was 71 individuals, or eight percent, less than the number recorded during the same period last year, and noticeably less than in 2007, when the figure was 992. In Germany, approximately 12,000 patients are waiting for donor organs, two thirds of them for a kidney.

sej/ipj (KNA, dpa, epd, NOZ, DSO)