Slump in organ donations startles government

"What we know is that the new laws make such a manipulation attempt, as we have experienced in gottingen, impossible," said health minister daniel bahr (FDP) on thursday in berlin. According to the german press agency (dpa), public prosecutors have meanwhile filed charges against the former head of gottingen's transplant medicine department.

Two days before organ donation day, bahr launched a nationwide campaign with celebrities. "I don't see, when i'm diagnosed with brain death, that these valuable organs are burned or buried," said actor klaus J. Behrendt ("crime scene"). He, like olympic biathlon and weightlifting champions kati wilhelm and matthias steiner, advertises on crude posters for organ donations.

As a result of the transplant scandal, the number of donors fell by 12.8 percent to 1046 in 2012. In the first quarter of 2013, there was a drop of 18 percent to 230. "Every jolt costs human lives," warned bahr, urgently appealing for trust. "We have the strictest rules for organ donation in germany in international comparison," he said. "It is no longer possible for one doctor alone to decide on the position on the waiting list."Today a six-eyes-principle is in force, among other things unannounced examinations were added.

According to bahr, of the 12,000 people on the waiting list, three die every day because there is no suitable organ.

Since july 2012, it has become known that the gottingen doctor is alleged to have reported false health data of patients of the university hospital to the company eurotransplant from 2009 to 2011 in order to give preference to his own patients when receiving a donor liver.

The braunschweig public prosecutor's office accuses the 45-year-old professor of medicine of, among other things, attempted manslaughter in several cases. The authorities would not confirm that charges had been filed.

Since january, the doctor has been in custody under investigation for risk of absconding. Manipulations are also alleged to have taken place in other clinics.

Official audits of all transplant clinics are making progress, doctors say. "In the meantime, the review of the liver programs is nearing completion," doctor president frank ulrich montgomery told dpa.

A year ago, after 15 years of debate, the bundestag decided that all citizens of the federal republic of germany over the age of 16 would in future be asked about their willingness to donate organs after death. According to bahr, the health insurance companies have so far sent information and donor cards to 40 million insured patients.

The gruns urge swift further reforms. This had to come in the remaining three weeks of the session until the parliamentary elections, demanded fraktionschefin renate kunast. "If this does not succeed, a campaign is wasted money, because trust will not return in this way."

More is planned. An expert opinion is currently being prepared to clarify how violations in transplant medicine can be better sanctioned, as bahr told dpa. The health ministry is also to approve the important regulations of the federal medical association in this area. Vice chairman of the CDU/CSU parliamentary group johannes singhammer (CSU) told dpa: "it is a major step forward that the guidelines will in future require state legitimation."

With the establishment of a transplant registry, bahr then wants to improve the removal, placement and use of organs. "This is an important goal."SPD health expert carola reimann told dpa that fewer transplant centers are needed.

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