By Peter McLaren-Kennedy • 22 January 2022 • 10:07
Latest figures released by the Valencian Community show that organ donations and transplants in the region were back to pre-pandemic levels in 2021.
Officials say reaching pre-pandemic levels despite further lockdowns and coronavirus restrictions, is a fantastic achievement for the health service and testimony to the dedication of medical staff.
Leading the charge was La Fe de València hospital who again undertook the most transplants, regaining the number one position it last held in 2018. The hospital undertook 323 transplants in 2021, more than half of all those undertaken in the region during the year. It is also the hospital that did the most liver transplants with 117 during the year.
The General de Castelló hospital led with the most organ donations in the whole country with 47.
Interestingly organ donations increased by 29% between 2020 and 2021, rising to 254, just one short of the record for the region. The number confirms that Valencia is one of the most altruistic communities when it comes to organ donation with 50,3 donations per million inhabitants. This is well above the Spanish average of 40.2 and much more than in populated regions such as Madrid (27.1), Catalonia (37.1) or Andalusia (39.6).
Although the numbers have increased so too did the number of refusals, with more than ten percent of families refusing to donate the organs of their loved ones. Official data suggests that around 86 percent of families say yes to organ donation without having to be encouraged to do so.
Rafael Zaragoza, director of the Transplant program of the C. Valenciana said: “The causes must be analysed because we do not know what it is due to, although one may be the least contact that is had in a pandemic with medical professionals.”
The number of transplants is around 15 percent lower than the all-time high, which authorities say is down to the need for caution whilst Covid-19 was still active. Non-urgent transplants were postponed as a result of the virus.
“The urgent transplants have all been done but we wanted to be cautious with the non-vital ones,” Zaragoza says.
The Department of Health confirmed that 50 transplants were undertaken elsewhere in Spain with Valencian donations.
New techniques like controlled asystole (where surgeons stop the heart) are said to have a lot to do with the high level of donations. The availability of ECMO equipment, which allows organs to be oxygenated after the person’s heart has stopped has also helped medical staff to remove organs, in the past such operations were only carried out once the patient was considered brain dead.
In C. Valenciana: the mobile donor team made 28 outings to recover 37 kidneys, 17 livers and eight lungs for transplant. Valencia is the only region that offers this possibility in all its hospitals.
Then health system has been under real pressure during the pandemic and it is wonderful to see that hospitals have been able to recover the levels of organ donations and transplants in Valencia, resulting in the saving of many lives.
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Originally from South Africa, Peter is based on the Costa Blanca and is a web reporter for the Euro Weekly News covering international and Spanish national news.
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