Missed chances in organ donation

Understaffing and poor organization at hospitals as well as a dearth of potential donors, mean that hundreds of people waiting for transplants are not getting the organs they need, experts say. The absence of staff and proper organization in intensive-care units means that donated organs often do not reach patients quickly enough, said Yiannis Vlachoyiannis, a senior official at the National Transplant Organization (EOM). Vlachoyiannis blamed the fact that in 30 percent of cases the diagnosis of brain death comes too late. He added that hospitals often do not lobby for transplants, as doing so would lead to the rescheduling of other operations. Vlachoyiannis recommended the repricing of the transplant procedure to make it more financially viable for hospitals. «The medical community has failed to embrace organ transplants,» he said. Petros Alivizatos, president of the Onassis Cardiac Surgery Center and also a member of EOM, said that debate about the ethics of removing organs from brain-dead patients for transplant surgery had made the majority of the Greek public unwilling to back organ donation. A recent study by the European Commission’s statistics agency Eurostat shows that 45 percent of Greeks are opposed to becoming organ donors because they do not trust the state health system. The statistic is the highest in the European Union, with just 0.9 percent of Greeks holding an organ donor card. The head of the pathological clinic at the Errikos Dunant Hospital, Eleftheria Krikeli, who is the mother of an organ donor, said she made the decision to donate her son’s organs immediately after doctors told her there was no time to lose. «Today some people are very happy that I made that decision, and I’m very happy about that,» Krikeli said.