Donor scheme image
Hospital intensive care ward
Is there an organ donor scheme here in Spain? I haven’t seen anything about it; where could I sign up?
Spain has a far higher number of donors (donantes de órganos) than the UK or most other European countries, and numbers continue to rise: in the last decade, the number of organ donations has risen each year. The Spanish organ donor system has proved so effective that it is now known as the ‘Spanish Model’ and imitated by a number of other countries.
Much of the Spanish Model’s success is due to the fact that every intensive care unit in Spain has a person who is responsible for organ donation, whose job includes liaising with relatives to secure possible organ donations. It is also due to the fact that Spain uses an ‘opt-out’ programme, where individuals are presumed to have consented to have their organs used for transplant unless they specifically object.
Objections are registered through filling out an ‘opt-out’ form, or simply by informing your relatives of your wishes.
Spain has a ‘soft opt-out’ system where the views of close relatives are respected when considering whether to use organs, as opposed to a ‘hard opt-out’ system like the one used in Austria, where the views of relatives are ignored, or an ‘opt-in’ system, like that in Britain, where individuals must carry a card and notify national organisations to indicate their desire to donate.
In the UK, to be a donor you have to register with the NHS Organ Donor Register. This is a database that is shared between European countries. In Spain, those who are particularly passionate about donating their organs can sign up with the national organ donor body, the Organización Nacional de Trasplante (www.ont.es; website available in English), but the ONT itself states that simply informing relatives of your wishes is enough.