Perhaps it's because we inevitably have to confront our mortality when it comes to the topic of organ donation. It is difficult to explain otherwise why, according to surveys, around 84 percent of Germans are willing to donate their organs after death, but only 44 percent put this wish in writing in an organ donation card or a living will.
However, if a person has not determined during their lifetime whether their organs may be donated after death, doctors cannot remove them. This is regulated by law – no organ removal takes place in Germany without consent. This is called decision-making. This also means: If doctors determine the death of a patient who has not recorded the will for or against an organ donation, doctors must ask the relatives whether they agree to an organ donation.
The problem: "Relatives often don't know what the deceased would have wanted," said Axel Rahmel, medical director of the German Organ Transplantation Foundation, to Finanztest. In many cases, the relatives reject organ donation for three different reasons: because the deceased spoke out against organ donation during their lifetime, because they suspect this to be the will of the deceased, or because they reject it because of their own values.
For people who are waiting for an organ donation, it is problematic that many people do not state their will to donate their organs during their lifetime. Because: The relatives do not always know the wishes of the deceased and someone who actually wanted to donate his organs will never become an organ donor.
In Germany, around 8,500 people are waiting for an organ donation - most of them are waiting for a new kidney. If a person donates their organs after death, seven people can be saved.
In view of the low number of donors in Germany, Federal Health Minister Karl Lauterbach wants to re-examine the decision. The alternative: the contradiction solution. This would mean that every German citizen would automatically be an organ donor – unless he or she objected. Experience from other countries shows that this leads to more donations.
Stiftung Warentest recommends writing down your willingness to donate organs – on an organ donation card or a living will. Anyone over the age of 14 can get advice on organ donation from the family doctor in advance - the costs are borne by the statutory health insurance company. Anyone who has decided for or against organ donation after death should also inform their relatives.
Read here which organs can be donated and what the requirements are!
You can find out about reports from those affected and how doctors talk to relatives about a potential organ donation at Stiftung Warentest!