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Action plan on Organ Donation and Transplantation

The current challenge concerning organs in the European Union is to be able to increase the number of donors, as well as to guarantee the quality and safety of the process from organ donation to transplantation. To this end, the European Commission has set ten priorities to be implemented in order to strengthen cooperation between Member States.

ACT

Communication from the Commission of 8 December 2008 - Action plan on Organ Donation and Transplantation (2009-2015): Strengthened Cooperation between Member States [COM(2008) 819 – Not published in the Official Journal].

SUMMARY

The European Commission is presenting an Action Plan with the aim of strengthening cooperation between Member States in terms of organ donation and transplantation. This plan is also accompanied by a Proposal for a Directive on standards of quality and safety of human organs intended for transplantation.

This Action Plan lays down ten priority actions grouped under three challenges:

  • increasing organ availability;
  • enhancing the efficiency and accessibility of transplantation systems;
  • improving quality and safety.

Priority Actions for increasing organ availability

It is essential to increase the number of organ donors. To this end, the Plan advocates the appointing of transplant donor coordinators in all hospitals practising organ donation.

Hospitals must also promote Quality Improvement Programmes for organ donation, through a specific methodology. Existing methods are to be compared and those giving most results will be promoted.

Exchange of good practice is also strongly encouraged in the field of organ donation from living donors (concerning deceased donors, it is recommended that the potential of donations be maximised). In this regard, altruistic donation programmes should be set up, whilst storing personal data on donors in line with Directive 95/46/EC.

Good communication within families can have positive consequences on willingness to donate organs by family members. This is why health professionals and patient support groups are to strengthen communication and organise training in this field with families in order to increase organ donation potential.

Mobility of patients and donors should also be prioritised as part of cooperation between Member States. It should be possible to identify all donors in the Union. Tools are to be made available by the Commission to this end.

Priority Actions for enhancing the efficiency and accessibility of transplantation systems

Each Member State should prepare a national programme of priority actions to enhance the efficiency of transplantation systems. In particular, a series of common indicators shall be established to monitor organ donation policy.

The Action Plan strongly supports the drawing up of Community agreements on various aspects of transplant medicine. Cooperation is the best framework to generate joint solutions and monitoring mechanisms.

The Action Plan also invites Member States to establish Community agreements on the monitoring of the extent of organ trafficking in Europe. This trafficking is indeed a scourge in that it is one of the causes of the lack of available organs.

Member States are also invited to introduce a system or structure for the exchange of organs in particular for urgent cases and difficult to treat patients (such as children or patients requiring specific treatment).

Priority actions for improving quality and safety

Information concerning organ donations and transplantation should be compiled in registers to facilitate the evaluation of post-transplantation results. This information will be used in particular to develop good medical practices and to prepare a method to compare performance for the monitoring of organ recipients.

An accreditation system for organ donation, procurement and transplantation programmes should be established as part of a common methodology.

Context

As the Communication Organ donation and transplantation: Policy actions at European Union level had already pointed out, demand for organs outweighs supply all over the European territory. There are currently more than 56 000 patients waiting for an organ from a suitable donor. These shortages generate organ trafficking which is a violation of human dignity and fundamental rights. It is for this reason that Member States should strengthen cooperation in order to preserve organ quality and safety.

RELATED ACTS

Proposal for a Directive of the European Parliament and of the Council of 8 December 2008 on standards of quality and safety of human organs intended for transplantation [COM(2008) 818 final – Not published in the Official Journal].

This Proposal for a Directive on quality and safety standards for human organs intended for transplantation establishes a legal framework in this field.

Codecision Procedure (COD/2008/0238).

Last updated: 13.05.2009
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