Organ transplants down 6% due to fewer donations

The number of organ transplants in the Netherlands fell by six percent last year, from 817 in 2018 to 769 in 2019, transplantation foundation NTS announced on Monday. The foundation attributes the decrease in transplants to the fact that fewer people donated their organs after death. There was a striking increase in surviving relatives blocking a transplant after death.

Last year, 250 people eventually donated their organs after death, including 13 people after euthanasia. That is an eight percent decrease compared to 2018. A total of 500 living people donated a kidney last year, and 22 people donated a piece of their liver. 

In 19 percent of cases in which a registered organ donor died, their relatives decided not to donate their organs even though they were registered donors. In 2018 this happened in 12 percent of cases. "A disturbing development," NTS director Bernadette Haase said. 

On January 1st this year a total of 1,271 people were on the waiting list for an organ, 6 percent more than a year earlier. 

Everyone in the Netherlands aged 12 and over will automatically be registered as organ donors on July 1 unless they decide to opt out of the system. By December 3, 2019, nearly 6.9 million people had informed the government of their decision one way or the other via website, a strong increase over October figures.

The law approving the new system passed both the upper and lower houses of parliament by very slim majorities. Next of kin can still lodge a final objection to the donation of a person’s organs if they were signed up to the system automatically.