The National Transplant Organization (ONT) has confirmed that Spain has now performed a total of 100,116 organ transplants, 3.7% of them children (3,689). The historic milestone is thanks to the awareness campaigns on organ donation. On the occasion of World Transplant Day and to learn more about the process of organ donation, we wanted to contact the specialist in Urology and member of Top Doctors, Dr. García de Jalón Martínez, who is participating in the development of technology for better preservation of organs before transplantation.
When a patient requires organ donation, it is usually the patient’s own family members who consider making the donation. Even so, their viability and compatibility must always be studied first. The fundamental requirements to be a donor are to be in good physical and psychological health, not to suffer from anatomical anomalies of the organ to be donated that could hinder its extraction or subsequent implantation, and to be immunologically compatible with the recipient. The urologist, Dr. García de Jalón, indicates that in the case of not fulfilling this last condition “a crossed donation can be considered with another couple in the same situation, exchanging donors”.
There is also the possibility of an altruistic donation in which it is not known who will receive the organ, although this is less frequent than when there are family ties between donor and recipient.
Types of donation
Dr. García de Jalón explains that when patients enter dialysis, they are subjected to a series of studies to assess whether they can be candidates to receive a kidney transplant. In this case, they enter the waiting list to receive a kidney from a deceased donor.
If the donation is made by a living donor, the process is a little different, since the donor has been located, it is a surgery that can be programmed and generally before the recipient enters dialysis. Likewise, imaging tests are performed on the donor to plan the extraction surgery, generally by laparoscopy, and the subsequent implantation in the recipient.
The approximate waiting time for the arrival of an organ varies. In the case of the lung, it ranges between 5 and 6 months; in the case of the heart, it is 3 months; in the liver, between 4 and 5 months; in the kidney, between 15 and 18 months; and in the pancreas, between 9 and 10 months.
Advances in transplant donation
In recent years the main advances have been in the field of live donation with laparoscopic surgery, which reduces the aggressiveness of the intervention for the donor.
Regarding deceased-donor transplants, urologist Dr. García de Jalón contributes with his experience in experimental surgery to the development of prototypes of machines for preserving organs at body temperature, which will make it possible to avoid the deterioration they can suffer from cold preservation, as is currently done, and thus increase the time available for their implantation.
Spain is currently the country where the population is most likely to have access to a transplant, with a rate of 39.7 donors per million inhabitants. Of the total number of transplants, 62,967 are renal, 23,881 are hepatic, 7,616 are cardiac, 3,824 are pulmonary, 1,703 are pancreatic and 125 are intestinal. To these figures must also be added the more than 400,000 tissue and cell transplants, bringing to more than half a million the number of people who have benefited from the Spanish transplant system.