With more than 2,300 donors, it holds the leading global position for the 28th straight year and accounts for 20% of all organ donations in the European Union


For yet another year – the 28th straight year – our country is placed as the global leader in organ donation and transplant. With a rate of 49.6 donors per million population (p.m.p), which led to 5,449 transplants, Spain’s figures do not stop rising and show the indisputable solidarity of the Spanish people.

This is seen in the latest figures for 2019 from the World Transplant Registry managed by the National Transplant Organisation (Spanish acronym: ONT) for the last 14 years as a collaborating centre of the World Health Organization (WTO). Specifically, a total of 2,302 organ donations were recorded last year, which enabled 3,423 kidney transplants, 1,277 liver transplants, 300 heart transplants, 419 lung transplants, 76 pancreas transplants and four intestinal transplants to be performed.

The figures from the World Registry also show the significant contribution from our country to organ donation around the world: with only 9.1% of the European population and 0.6% of the world’s population, Spain contributes 20% of organ donations in the EU and 6% of those recorded throughout the world.

As regards transplants, Spain hit the figure in 2019 of 117.4 transplants p.m.p, behind only the United States (with 123.4 p.m.p), due to its major transplant activity of living donors. However, our country holds an unrivalled leading global position in the transplant of deceased organ donation, with a rate of 107.9 transplants p.m.p, higher than the 100.9 p.m.p recorded in the United States.

The significant activity recorded in Spain in 2019 has further distanced our country from the EU average, where both donation and transplant activity have remained steady, to stand at 22.5 deceased donors p.m.p and 67.2 transplants p.m.p last year. Among the European countries that come behind Spain – by a wide margin – in donor rates are Portugal (33.7 p.m.p), Croatia (32 p.m.p), France (29.4 p.m.p) and Belgium (27.7 p.m.p). As regards transplants, our country is followed by France (90.2 p.m.p), Portugal (82.2 p.m.p), Norway (82 p.m.p) and Austria (81.8 p.m.p).


A benchmark model



Spain’s excellent figures have made our country, and specifically the ONT model, a global benchmark.

Among other countries, Australia has received advice from our country, and has reproduced all the elements of the Spanish model, which has led to an improvement in its organ donation rate over recent years. The same is true of Canada, with a gradual improvement. Latin America deserves a special mention, where Spain has been collaborating for the last 15 years through the Ibero-American Donation and Transplant Network/Council (Spanish acronym: RCIDT), both in terms of advice and management, and in the training of professionals. Donation rates rose on the continent by 9% in 2019, with a significant increase in Argentina, Chile and Brazil. Uruguay, specifically, which currently heads up donation activity in the region, has doubled its figures since cooperation with Spain began in 2005.


Activity has been maintained during the pandemic


Transplant activity around the world has continued to grow in the last year, albeit slowly, with a total of 146,840 transplants globally, a 6% rise on the previous year. The number of deceased donors has also risen by 5%, in addition to living kidney and liver donors.

However, the growing trend in both Spain and around the world has been affected in 2020 by the health crisis caused by Covid-19. Despite this, from the decree of the state of emergency to 3 September, 1,649 transplants were recorded in our country from 760 donors. The clear protocols to assess and select potential donors and recipients and the establishment of circuits free of Covid-19 within the guidelines of the PostCovid Plan of the ONT and the Regional Transplant Coordination Bodies has meant it has been possible to maintain the activity despite the epidemiological situation.