Tissue Medicine Requires Tissue Donations
An obvious requirement of any success in tissue transplantations are tissue donations. The need for tissue transplants in Germany could be completely covered by national donation programs. Each year about 850,000 people die in Germany. According to estimates, about two thirds of these deceased are potential tissue donors. These numbers of potential donors are so high because there are very different requirements for tissue donation versus organ donation. For organ donation, there are only about 4000 people who die a year who are possible donors. This is because the prerequisite for organ donation is that there is an unrecoverable failure of the overall function of the brain, the so called brain death. Tissue donations are possible, however, even in people who have died from cardiac arrest, so called non-heart-beating-donors. Also, age and cancer aren’t determining factors for tissue donation. A doctor must only have found reliable signs of death, such as dead spots or rigor mortis. Tissue donations are possible in every hospital in Germany.
Tissue Donation in Brain Dead Patients and Planned Organ Donation
Organ donors are also potential tissue donors! In total about ten percent of the tissue donors in the tissue network are organ donors. From these come almost all of the donated heart valves and blood vessels. The transplantation of human heart valves or blood vessels is often the only treatment option for seriously ill patients. Therefore, our work depend strongly on the notification of such donations. Our medical service is available 24 hours a day to inform about potential donors. A tissue donation without a contract is always possible. In these cases, the DGFG contacts the competent national authority and sends a mobile collection team. For the notifying clinic, there is no more effort required.
Building Donation Programs to Promote Tissue Donation
Tissue donation is a joint task! Every hospital in Germany can sign a cooperation agreement with the DGFG. The contract governs the type of donor notification, the donor screening process and other organizational aspects. Depending on the contract, we take care of either the whole process of tissue donation or just certain aspects. The DGFG provides human and material resources when needed. We train all the tissue donation staff involved and offer internal informational events in hospitals. Usually, the DGFG is the responsible party following § 20b German Drug Law (AMG – Arzneimittelgesetz). We guarantee that all regulatory approvals and tissue donations will follow qualified and standardized procedures. The clinic provides appropriate removal locations and notifies potential tissue organ donors to the DGFG.
Advantages of a Joint Donation Program
- Consultations for assistance with medical indications for postmortem tissue donation
- Support/adoption of the informed consent discussion with next of kin
- Organization and implementation of serological/virological diagnostic
- Organization and conduct of the removal of tissue
- Transport of tissue in the tissue bank
- Reimbursement of expenses for the use of infrastructure