Health: More tissue donations - but still a shortage of heart valves

The German Society for Tissue Transplantation (DGFG) once again received more tissue donations last year than in the previous year.

Health: More tissue donations - but still a shortage of heart valves

The German Society for Tissue Transplantation (DGFG) once again received more tissue donations last year than in the previous year. In 2023, 7,470 donated tissues were received by the tissue banks in the DGFG network, including 6,656 corneal specimens, as the DGFG in Hanover announced on Monday regarding the preliminary annual figures. In the previous year there were 6,679 tissues, in 2021 there were still 6,422 tissues. The DGFG arranges around half of the tissue transplants in Germany.

According to the data, there is still a shortage of cardiovascular tissue: "The placement agency received over 430 requests for a heart valve in 2023," said the DGFG. "Only 45 percent of the requests could be answered." The shortage severely affects the lives of many patients. “In the coming year, together with the clinics, we must continue to expand the donation programs for those who have died of cardiovascular disease in order to have a reliable alternative to organ donation,” said DGFG managing director Martin Börgel.

For many adults, artificial heart valves or those from pigs are an option. The DGFG said that young patients in particular are dependent on human heart valves that can grow with them and do not require blood-thinning medication.

A total of 3,475 people donated tissue in 2023, 12 percent more than in the previous year (3,070), it said. 7,503 patients were treated with a tissue transplant, including 5,003 with a cornea and 197 with a heart valve. Blood vessels and so-called amniotic membranes from placentas are also transplanted, which are used to treat wound healing problems and as a skin replacement for burns.

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