After the slowdown during the pandemic, there is a record number of organ and tissue donations in Italy: in 2022 for the first time there are over 1,800 (1,830, +3.7%) and, consequently, transplants have also increased, reaching 3,887 ( +2.5%), the second best result ever with regional rates growing almost everywhere. In fact, the National Health Service’s Transplant Network confirms the growth trend already shown in 2021, completing the total recovery of pre-Covid levels, and in many cases scoring the best absolute performances ever achieved. However, the reluctance of many Italians to express their consent to donating organs remains, a will that is expressed when one is alive: 28% are opposed to donations which are close to 40% in the South.
Donations boom, transplants grow
The national donation rate per million population (pmp) is the highest ever (24.7) and places Italy at the top of Europe behind Spain and together with France. The region with the highest donation rate is confirmed as the Tuscany (49.3 donors pmp) but the exponential increase in the rate should be noted Emilia Romagna (46, +8.8 on 2021) and the good result of Veneto (36.3, +6.2). Overall, the Centre-South is still lagging behind, with some slight signs of growth in Lazio, Campania and Calabria. Transplants also increased: the total number was 3,887, almost 100 more than in 2021 (+2.5%) and the second best result ever. Lombardy is confirmed as the region in which the most interventions are carried out followed by Veneto, Piedmont, Emilia Romagna and Lazio. In particular, kidney transplants (2,038, 4 less than in 2021) and heart transplants (254, +0.8%) were stable, while there was a very significant increase in liver transplants (1,474, +5, 6%) and lung (138, +17.9%).
Still too many nos to donate, especially in the South
The declarations of willingness to donate filed in the Transplant Information System as at 31 December 2022 exceeded 14 and a half million: 72% consents and 28% oppositions. Those registered in 2022 alone in the Italian Municipalities through the Cie system (that of the electronic identity card) were 2.7 million, with a percentage of no of 31.8% (+0.7% compared to 2021). With almost half of the citizens who do not express themselves on the hypothesis of becoming a donor when renewing their identity card. The oppositions registered during life therefore remain high, especially in the South where they touch or in some cases exceed 40%: a figure that confirms the need to raise awareness especially among 18-30 year olds and over 60s, among whom there is often the mistaken belief that the donation is impossible for personal reasons. Overall, stressed the Minister of Health Horace Schillaci, Italy ranks “at the top in Europe for the number of donations, we have recovered the pre-Covid levels and our transplantation system is among the best in the world, however the opposition figure remains significant and for this reason we intend to strengthen the activities of awareness. In fact, there are still many patients waiting for a transplant ».
New communication campaigns to overcome prejudices
The minister then announced that this year’s National Day for Organ and Tissue Donation will be held on Sunday 16 April. On this occasion, the new annual information campaign for citizens will start also because prejudices and fake news resist. “It is important to continue to invest in the promotion of awareness and information initiatives to convey the message that donating organs is the most significant and significant that could exist,” added Schillaci. For example, one of the most frequent doubts regarding organ and tissue donation is the certainty of brain death. In fact, there are still many who wonder if there is a possibility of awakening from that condition. Just as among the most widespread prejudices there would also be a presumed (and not true) opposition to the gift dictated by religious principles or the fact that health conditions could prevent saving a life even if in reality it is always the doctors who evaluate the suitability for organ and tissue retrieval.
How can you give consent to the donation
All adults can express their willingness to donate organs and tissues in various ways: in the Municipality, by signing a simple form when issuing or renewing the identity card; at the specific counters of the local health authorities; by completing and signing the membership cardItalian association for the donation of organs, tissues and cells (Aido); or with a declaration on plain paper complete with all personal data, dated and signed, to be kept in the wallet. Finally also with the blue card sent by the Ministry of Health in 2000 or with the «DonoCards» of the sector associations. Italian law allows you to change the will expressed at any time with the declarations of will that are registered within the Transplant Information System, with the exception of the declaration on plain paper, the blue card and the DonoCards, which are in any case considered valid in accordance with the law .