Patients, Politicians Brainstorm to Improve EU Organ Donation, Transplants

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by Marina Anastasiou |

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EU organ donation

For the first time, people affected by a host of different diseases, mainly conditions affecting the heart, lungs, kidneys, and liver, met with members of the European parliament to brainstorm ways to efficiently solve issues regarding organ donation and transplant.

Healthcare experts, patients, and their families were at the Oct. 18 meeting, led by the European Pulmonary Hypertension Association (PHA Europe). The goal was to reach a consensus on a comprehensive policy framework that would offer support to countries and ensure that organ transplant programs are used to their full potential.

“Lung transplantation is a treatment option for selected patients with pulmonary hypertension (PH) when medical therapy is no longer effective. Lung transplantation can prolong survival and improve quality of life,” according to the Pulmonary Hypertension Association.

Lung transplants make up a considerable portion of all transplants worldwide, but the number of candidates waiting for a lung grows daily.

The ongoing organ shortage is reflected in discouraging statistics. It’s estimated that 16 people die every day due to a lack of available organs compatible for transplant. More than 80,000 people in Europe alone are waiting for transplants.

A transplant is often the last hope for children and adults of all ages who have conditions that impair the fuction of their vital organs, according to a press release.

In an attempt to educate more people about organ donation and transplants, short self-filmed videos capturing patients’ stories are being broadcast in the EU parliament. One of the most touching stories is about an Austrian airline pilot who was on dialysis for five years, but he managed to fly again following a successful kidney transplant.

The stories provide only a glimpse of how the lives of individuals with debilitating conditions can be completely changed after an organ transplant.

“There is no single challenge to overcome to meet the growing demand for organ transplants across Europe,” said Pisana Ferrari, CEO of PHA Europe and a 2002 lung transplant recipient, in a press release.

“The problems related to the availability of organs are highly complex and sensitive, from hospital capacity and logistical issues to individuals’ cultural and religious beliefs. What we hope to achieve from today’s discussions are some more tangible next steps to improve the situation with policymakers and influential stakeholders,” she said.