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Nearly 6,500 people have donated a kidney or part of their liver while alive in Spain

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The Minister of Health, Mónica García, has presided over the celebration of the National Organ, Tissue and Cell Donor Day, where she has recognised that we are facing “one of the greatest acts of generosity, which describes the human quality of Spanish society.”

The minister has highlighted “the exemplary nature of the donors and those families who, in the tragic moment of the loss of a loved one, say yes to the donation, as well as those people who undergo major surgery to improve the life of a family member and even of an unknown person; this act of tribute is for and by them,” she said.

Mónica García also recalled that “to improve the social protection of living organ donors, last week the Congress of Deputies unanimously approved the admission for processing of a bill that creates a specific labour protection regime for them”.

The director of the National Transplant Organisation (ONT), Beatriz Domínguez-Gil, has thanked all the organisations that actively participate in this process for their collaboration and has stressed the importance of donation, “which is also a way for our values ​​to emerge as society”.

This day, which is celebrated on the first Wednesday of each June, is an opportunity to honour donors and their families and remember the importance of donating organs, tissues and cells.

Since the ONT was created in 1989 until December 31, 2023, nearly 6,500 people have donated a kidney (5,913) or part of their liver (509) while alive in Spain.

The first kidney transplant from a living donor was performed at the Brigham Hospital in Boston (United States) in 1954. The Hospital Clinic in Barcelona was the centre that carried out the first procedure of this type in Spain in 1965, followed that same year, from the Jiménez Díaz Foundation of Madrid.

Living donor kidney transplant activity was limited for years in Spain, but has increased exponentially throughout this century. In this way, if in 2000 there were 19 people who donated a kidney while alive, the number increased to the historical maximum of 435 procedures in 2023.

The growth of living kidney transplantation in Spain responds to the population’s need for kidney transplantation, but above all to the better results it offers compared to deceased donor transplantation.

In the case of liver transplantation from a living donor, the first case in the world was carried out in a child in the city of Brisbane (Australia) in 1989. In Spain, the first procedure was performed at the La Paz University Hospital in Madrid in 1993.

The maximum live liver transplant activity in Spain was recorded in 2002, with 41 transplants. However, this number has been progressively decreasing since 2019, with only two transplants of this type having been carried out last year.

This is due to the improvements introduced to facilitate access to liver transplantation for children, who are usually the recipients of livers from living donors.

According to data from the ONT, the average age of the living kidney donor in 2023 was 54.4 years and that of the recipient was 47.7 years. Of the 435 live kidney transplants performed last year, 17 (4%) were carried out in children.

In these cases, the average age of the donor was somewhat younger (44.6 years), as it was usually a parent of the recipient. Additionally, seven out of ten kidney donors were women.

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