Last year, more organ transplants were done in Finland than ever before. According to the Finnish Kidney and Liver Association (Munuais- ja maksaliitto), 453 people received extra life thanks to other people's organs in 2019. Still, other 570 remain in the waiting lists.
The especially high number of transplants achieved last year (453) exceeds by more than 50 the previous record, reached in 2016.
More than half of the transplants performed (293) were kidneys. There were also 64 liver, 30 heart and 27 lung transplants. Additionally, 39 pancreas transplants were performed, often combined with kidney transplants, the association detailed in a press release.
"A transplant saves the recipient's life, or at least significantly improves their quality of life. Most transplant recipients return to normal life, for example to study or work. Transplantation is literally a gift for life," says Petri Inomaa from the Kidney and Liver Association.
Youngest donor only 5 years old
According to the data released, last year there were in Finland 141 organ donors. The youngest one was only 5 years old, while the oldest was 82. The average age of donors was 54.8 years. Most donors were from the capital area (Helsinki and Uusimaa), but only in absolute numbers. Relative to the population, there were more donors in Northern Savonia (Kuopio area).
"The most common cause of brain death in an organ donor is cerebral hemorrhage. For those close to them, the idea of organ donation comes as a surprise, and in the midst of great sadness. In most cases, however, organ donation afterwards brings comfort to loved ones, as more people have gained new life with an anonymous gift," explains Anna-Maria Koivusalo, national organ donation coordinator.
Every person is a donor
According to the law, every Finn is an organ donor, unless they explicitly oppose during their lifetime. It is essential that the organs to be donated are healthy. Transplant surgeons assess the suitability of each potential organ donor individually.
"There is no need to evaluate the condition of their organs themselves, but everyone can sign an organ donation card, download the organ donation card application on their phone or record their will in My Kanta pages. It is also important to tell your own will to your relatives, as they are always discussed before the transfer," Inomaa added.
Organ donations from brain death donors are performed at all central hospitals. However, transplant surgeries have been centralized nationwide at Helsinki University Hospital.
Spain is the leader in transplants in Europe. In 2019, the country reached a new record: 2,301 donors and 5,449 transplants.