How Spain Reached 40 Deceased Organ Donors per Million Population

Am J Transplant. 2017 Jun;17(6):1447-1454. doi: 10.1111/ajt.14104. Epub 2017 Jan 9.


With 40 donors and more than 100 transplant procedures per million population in 2015, Spain holds a privileged position worldwide in providing transplant services to its patient population. The Spanish success derives from a specific organizational approach to ensure the systematic identification of opportunities for organ donation and their transition to actual donation and to promote public support for the donation of organs after death. The Spanish results are to be highlighted in the context of the dramatic decline in the incidence of brain death and the changes in end-of-life care practices in the country since the beginning of the century. This prompted the system to conceive the 40 donors per million population plan, with three specific objectives: (i) promoting the identification and early referral of possible organ donors from outside of the intensive care unit to consider elective non-therapeutic intensive care and incorporate the option of organ donation into end-of-life care; (ii) facilitating the use of organs from expanded criteria and non-standard risk donors; and (iii) developing the framework for the practice of donation after circulatory death. This article describes the actions undertaken and their impact on donation and transplantation activities.

Keywords: donors and donation: donation after brain death (DBD); donors and donation: donation after circulatory death (DCD); donors and donation: extended criteria; health services and outcomes research; organ procurement and allocation; organ transplantation in general.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Brain Death
  • Humans
  • Organ Transplantation / statistics & numerical data*
  • Tissue Donors / statistics & numerical data*
  • Tissue and Organ Procurement / organization & administration
  • Tissue and Organ Procurement / statistics & numerical data*
  • Tissue and Organ Procurement / trends