Swiss organ shortage persists despite national vote

Surgeons carry out a kidney transplant at Geneva University Hospital (HUG) on April 5, 2022. © Keystone / Martial Trezzini

Nine months after Swiss voters backed a major change to the national organ donation model, the shortage of organs continues, the Federal Office of Public Health (FOPH) reports.

This content was published on January 24, 2023 minutes

The number of organ donors and recipients last year changed very little compared to 2021, the health office saidExternal link on Tuesday.

In all, 570 people received an organ in 2022, and 164 deceased people donated one or more organs – slightly less than in 2021 (166 donors).

Meanwhile, the number of people on the waiting list remained stable: 1,442 at the end of 2022, compared to 1,434 in 2021. For almost half of them, a transplant was not possible for health reasons.

In May 2022 60% of Swiss voters accepted a reform to the transplantation law aiming to boost organ donation rates.

Under the reform, Switzerland has moved from a system of explicit consent to one of presumed consent. The change means that unless you make your opposition to organ donation clear during your lifetime, you will be considered a potential donor by default.

However, the new legislation has not yet entered into force. The FOPH recently indicated that it would not be introduced before 2025. A national register with an individual digital ID must still be created in order to introduce donor details and decisions.

Until then, the principle of explicit consent remains in force. Currently, where there is any doubt regarding a potential organ donation doctors ask relatives, who often refuse.

The FOPH announced on Tuesday that it had launched a new organ donation campaign “Better now than tomorrow: regulate organ donation” to encourage the Swiss to consider an organ donation and record their wishes, either via a donor card, a statement or an electronic patient file.

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