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Organ donation reform

May 25, 2012

The German parliament, the Bundestag, has amended legislation on organ donations to increase the number of donors. The decision comes after many years of debate.

Container for transporting human organs for transplant
Image: dapd

Germans over 16 years of age will now be regularly asked if they would be prepared to donate their organs following an amendment to present laws passed by the German parliament on Friday.

The change means that people will no longer have to actively seek organ-donor status as was previously the case. Up to now, it has been necessary to fill out a form expressly stating a readiness to donate organs after death.

Only 20 percent of Germans take the opportunity, although surveys show 80 percent of the population is in favor of organ donation.

"The regulation allows for people not wanting to decide at a particular point in time. But we'll keep asking," Health Minister Daniel Bahr said.

The parliament also decided on amendments to quality and safety standards with regards to organ transplant. Among other things, the roughly 1,350 clinics and hospitals with intensive-care units will be required to appoint a transplant representative to coordinate organ donations and advise relations of potential donors.

More than 12,000 people in Germany are waiting for organ transplants. Three of them die every day.

tj/ng (AFP, dpa, dapd)