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We need to do more to attract organ donors

Everyone agrees once again in regret: The situation with organ donation in Germany is more catastrophic than ever.

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We need to do more to attract organ donors

Everyone agrees once again in regret: The situation with organ donation in Germany is more catastrophic than ever. In fact, the numbers from 2022 have fallen again. Only 0.001 percent of Germans are organ donors. And this despite the fact that, according to the latest surveys, 84 percent are positive about organ donation. How does that fit together?

Politicians took up this topic in the last legislative period and initiated the law to “strengthen the willingness to make decisions”, which was largely helped by the Green Party leader at the time, Annalena Baerbock. Unfortunately, what many critics feared from the start happened: zero effect.

On the one hand, this may be due to Corona and the tense situation in the hospitals. On the other hand, the reform, which was fabricated with a hot pen, proves to be the paper tiger it started out as.

According to this, general practitioners and citizens' offices should inform about organ donation, but they are already overwhelmed. A planned donor online register is behind schedule. Even if it were to come: In other countries, such as Switzerland, less than two percent of the population would have used it.

In Germany, too, it is unrealistic to assume that someone who does not bother to fill out an organ donor card will log into a register with their PIN and TAN. Nevertheless, the FDP politician Katrin Helling-Plahr has hopes for such an instrument.

Your statement in the WELT is to be understood above all as a counterattack against Federal Minister of Health Karl Lauterbach, who again brought up the contradiction rule that failed in 2020.

Criticism of his recent initiative also comes from another apologist for the decision-making power model, the Greens Kirsten Kappert-Gonther: "To declare a law failed before it has been implemented is premature." Such a sentence has roughly the same logic as if it were claimed that the Minsk Agreement cannot work because it has not been implemented.

One must not pretend progress when in fact the status quo ante is still undercut. Therefore, it is high time to dispel myths and misinformation and have an honest debate.

Back then, in 2020, MPs should follow their conscience. But members of the Greens reported massive attempts to influence the parliamentary group leadership. The faction leader Baerbock should not suffer defeat.

The gossip followed within the party two years later, when Baerbock's sham solution was rejected at the federal delegates' conference in Bonn in October 2022 and the opt-out regulation was voted for. It will be interesting to see how the once grassroots Greens deal with this new decision-making situation.

The Catholic moral theologian Andreas Lob-Hüdepohl is currently campaigning against the contradiction rule. When asked whether the contradiction model for organ donation is promising or even ethically justified, he says to WELT: "Twice no".

And ignores the fact that conflicting countries have significantly higher numbers than Germany. If you subtract the organ donations in Spain that came about after cardiac arrest (in our case only after brain death), the numbers there are still three times higher.

Just as brazen is Lob-Hüdepohl's assertion that the contradiction solution should be rejected for ethical reasons. As early as 1999, the Federal Constitutional Court saw organ donation as voluntary, provided there was an opportunity to object. The Catholic Austrian Bishops' Conference held a similar view in 2005. Or with us the National Ethics Council 2007.

Of course, even in countries with objection regulations, no organs are removed without the express consent of those affected or their relatives. However, such a legal system change has demonstrably positive effects on the binding nature of the processes in the clinics, because it obliges them to ask for consent in every case of death in which an organ donation would be medically possible.

This would result in at least a doubling of the organ removals actually carried out. That would be particularly helpful in Germany. Because here, the provision of intensive care capacities for organ donation is still at the discretion of the mostly private hospital operators. And waiting patients unfortunately hardly have a lobby in Germany.

Also behind Lob-Hüdepohl's superficial understanding of "needy third parties" - not untypical for German church representatives - deeper resentments against organ donation itself come to light: the decision to do so is "always a decision about the quality of personal death". Oh yes? Since when can I decide whether I die in a car accident or fall asleep in the hospital bed?

The allegations go further: one must know "that alongside the concern for me as a dying person there is also the increasingly urgent concern for an anonymous third party in need of a transplant". Here, too, the morale guard paints a horror scenario that has nothing to do with reality.

The well-being of others is not in competition with one's own survival. Physicians who seek the life of the terminally ill are not the same ones who have the best interests of a potential recipient in mind. Separate teams of doctors are also involved in the removal process, with DSO and Eurotransplant intervening.

About 1000 people die in Germany every year while hoping for an organ. 1000 people disappear every year lonely, silent and mostly very miserable. A death that fades in the media before the statistics of corona deaths or war victims in Ukraine.

Joining the chorus of those who complain about the bad figures is not enough for a society based on solidarity. In the face of undecided politics, which can be influenced by supposedly morally arguing skeptics, there is only the appeal to everyone personally to form an opinion on organ donation and then to communicate it. That's not all, but it's an important step.

Jutta Falke-Ischinger is a journalist and chairwoman of the association “Leben donation e. V.” She is expressing her personal opinion here.

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