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Brussels, 30 May 2007

Eight out of ten Europeans favour organ donor cards, Eurobarometer reveals

Eight out of ten Europeans support the use of organ donor cards, although only 12% actually carry one, according to a Eurobarometer survey on organ donation published today. The European Commission has proposed the idea of a European organ donor card to increase the availability of organs in a Communication adopted today (see IP/07/718). The survey also reveals that 56% of Europeans are willing to donate one of their organs after they die, and this rises to 77% among those who have discussed the issue with their family. However, only 41% of all Europeans have discussed the question of organ donation and transplantations with their family. Compared to a similar survey in 2002, the percentage of Europeans who would agree to donate an organ of a deceased loved one rose by eight percentage points to 54%. The Eurobarometer shows wide variations in the attitudes of citizens from different EU Member States toward organ donation.

EU Health Commissioner Markos Kyprianou said: "With eight out of ten Europeans favouring organ donor cards but only one in ten actually carrying one, there is clearly huge potential to increase the availability of organs for donation. Organ donations save lives, and if more people discussed their views with their families in advance, this would also make the decision to donate the organ of a deceased relative much easier."

Donation cards

Organ donation cards, which indicate the card holder's willingness to donate an organ after their death, are perceived very positively by European citizens. More than eight out of 10 (81%) are in favour of the use of such cards. Nineteen percent oppose it.

The survey reveals that there is a big gap between acceptance for organ donation cards and the take-up of such cards in the EU. Organ donation cards are rarely used in the EU, as only 12% of Europeans surveyed have such a card.

The countries with the highest take-up of donor cards are the Netherlands (44%), Sweden (30%) and Ireland (29%).
Among Member States which joined the EU since 2004, the use of organ donation cards is extremely limited. Apart from Malta (15%) and Slovenia (6%), 2% or less of citizens in the recently acceding countries have such a card. As the overall attitude towards organ donation in these countries is positive and the general level of support is close to the EU average, it is probable that an enhanced public debate on this question would have very positive consequences on the population's acceptance of organ donation.

Donating the organ of a loved one
According to the survey, the majority of EU citizens are not only willing to donate one of their organs after they die, but they would also agree to donate an organ from a close family member that has just passed away. Fifty four percent of all Europeans would agree to donate an organ from a deceased close relative if requested by the hospital. This represents a considerable increase of eight percentage points compared to the Eurobarometer of 2002.

Take it up with the family

Discussions about organ donation in the family have a strong positive influence on the willingness to donate an organ. The vast majority (77%) of those who have already discussed this question are willing to donate one of their organs after their death (12% would not and 11% don't know). Only 42% of those who have never had such a discussion would donate an organ, and the proportion of those who would not (35%) and 'don't knows' is higher in this group (23%).
However, only 41% of all Europeans have discussed with their family the question of organ donation and transplantations.

Differences in attitudes

An analysis of the Eurobarometer's results by country reveals some significant differences. Support among citizens for the idea of donating an organ was highest in Sweden (81%), Malta (75%) and Finland (73%), and lowest in Romania (27%), Latvia (29%) and Austria (33%).

The survey also indicates that the level of education and the socio-professional position have a strong influence on the respondents' view on organ donation. Those with a higher level of education are far more likely to be willing to donate one of their organs. The percentage of senior citizens willing to donate (49%) is below the EU average.
The special Eurobarometer on "Europeans and organ donation" is available at:
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