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One in four hearts skip the waiting list

The Local · 7 Aug 2012, 12:37

Published: 07 Aug 2012 12:37 GMT+02:00

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The new Health Ministry statistics, obtained by Green Party health spokesman Harald Terpe and published by the Frankfurter Rundschau newspaper on Tuesday, show that the number of organs bumped up the system have increased dramatically over the last ten years.

This suggests that clinics are taking advantage of a loophole in the system to benefit their own patients at the expense of others.

Donated organs are normally distributed to patients according to a fixed set of criteria. But there are exceptions: if the donor was too old, or suffered from a virus or cancer, then clinics often refuse to take them. If three different clinics have refused an organ on medical grounds, then it goes into a so-called "accelerated process."

That means that the clinic where the donor is can give the organ to one of its own patients. The idea is to prevent the organ being wasted in individual cases, but in fact more and more organs are being put into the "accelerated process."

The new figures show that between 2002 and 2012, the percentage of livers being expedited in this way jumped from 9.1 percent to 37.1 percent, hearts jumped from 8.4 percent to 25.8 percent, lungs from 10.6 to 30.3 percent, and pancreases from 6.3 percent to as much as 43.7 percent.

According to the Frankfurter Rundschau, this shows that clinics are routinely using the accelerated process to help their own patients at the expense of others elsewhere, effectively bypassing the waiting list.

But the government argues that the figures merely reflect that donors are getting older, so their organs are more often considered unfit. It also pointed out that the directives for pancreases had been altered to reflect this in 2011.

But a 2009 study shows that doctors, state health authorities and health insurers have been unhappy with the accelerated process system for some time.

The study, carried out by the IGES health research institute for the Health Ministry, found that health professionals had already criticized the accelerated process system as lacking transparency.

Story continues below…

"The huge increase in these transplants needs an explanation," said Terpe. "After events in Göttingen we have to do everything to ensure that the system isn't being manipulated at another point."

He was referring to the scandal that surfaced last month at Göttingen University Hospital, which suspended two senior doctors accused of falsifying medical records to push certain – possibly paying – patients further up transplant waiting lists.

The Local/bk

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

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Your comments about this article

20:25 August 7, 2012 by yahma
With 1 in every 3 Germans being smokers (from an early age), I have no doubt that many organs are unfit for transplant.
12:24 August 11, 2012 by Kennneth Ingle
Often a subject in German television criminal stories, is the greed which leads to crime within the world trade of human organs. Everybody who is ready to help others by spending an organ deserves respect, but are they told the facts?

An organisation, with a structure similar to that of the Mafia, involving politicians, forced health-insurance, industrial pharmacy and clinics, is bound to provide dishonest minds with opportunities undreamed of by normal hard-working doctors and patients.

That rich people are being given preference over those less wealthy is nothing new! Already it seems to be the case of those who pay the most may have the right to live the longest. However where so much dishonesty is shown to take place by an implantation, it must also be expected at the scene of the extraction.

Only living organic matter is suitable for transplantation, so there was, and always will be, a great danger of such material being removed before the death of a donor has occurred. One cannot observe without some scepticism the new suggestion of some Ministers in Germany, that it shall no longer be a crime for doctors to speed up the death of a patient.

Older people will probably still remember the Hitler thesis of valued and unvalued forms of human life. It would be most alarming ,if the circumstances we can now observe, are moving into regions once accepted by such doctors as Oberland President Alexander Bergmann and the Deputy Judge Hansjoachim Lemme, whose articles were used in the official publication ­ Hausbuch fuer die deutsche Familie.
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