Although various associations in Luxembourg have been running campaigns to promote organ donation for the last few years, the issue remains taboo in the Grand Duchy.
The Eurotransplant International Foundation, often referred to as Eurotransplant, is a non-profit organisation which encourages and coordinates organ transplants throughout several European countries: Austria, Belgium, Croatia, Germany, Hungary, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, and Slovenia. According to Eurotransplant, it takes an average of three years to find a suitable kidney donor within the countries it operates in.
14 March marks World Kidney Day and raises awareness of the importance of the kidneys and how to reduce the chances of kidney disease.
In 2018, 23 Luxembourgish residents had the opportunity to get kidney transplants. However, the patients had to travel abroad for the procedures, as there have been no kidney transplants carried out in Luxembourg since 2010. The man to first carry out a kidney transplant on Luxembourgish soil is Dr Lamy, who did so in 1980. Until his retirement, he performed 184 of these surgeries.
The topic of organ donation remains a taboo in Luxembourg's society. For years, various organisations have been running campaigns and been distributing donor cards, named "Passport de vie" (life passports). Jos Buerg, the president of Protransplant, a non-profit organisation, estimates that about 40% of Luxembourgish residents carry such a card.
Organ donation is only possible in case of brain death though. Statistically, brain death affects every 50 out of a million people, which means that 25-30 people in Luxembourg could be affected each year.
Last year, eleven potential donors were identified in Luxembourg, says Jorge De Sousa, who is one of the people in charge of the coordination of transplants at Luxembourg Transplant. In four of those cases, organs were not donated as the person or their families decided against it. Thanks to the people who did donate, Luxembourg could make 21 organs available for organ donation within the Eurotransplant area.
Currently, 52 people in Luxembourg are on a waiting list for kidney transplants and remain dependent on organs becoming available in the Eurotransplant area.