For the 18th year in a row, Spain leads the world in the number of deceased organ donors per million people -- 34.3. This is a commonly used benchmark of the effectiveness of a donor system and other countries lag far behind. The average for the European Union is 18.1 and in the US it is 26.3. In the UK, the figure is 14.7 and in Australia 12.1 donors per million. The Spanish are particularly proud of their record, which was achieved despite a steady decrease in the number of traffic deaths, a major source of organs.
What is the secret of the Spanish system? Dedication and teamwork.In 1989 the government set up a national network of transplant coordinators. They work in all hospitals and closely monitor emergency wards to be aware of potential donors. When they learn of a death, they tactfully try to persuade relatives to allow the person's organs to be harvested. Only about 15% of families refuse consent nowadays, a huge drop from 40% before the system was set up. At a few hospitals the refusal rate is nearly zero. ~ AFP, Jan 12; Organización Nacional de Trasplantes