Cristina Jorge reminded people of the importance of donating in life in statements to Lusa about National Organ Donation and Transplant Day, which was celebrated on July 20th. She recalled how last year the country had an altruistic donation situation, where people donated their kidneys to strangers.

For donation in life to be possible, a specialist explains, the person should communicate their will to go through with it to one of seven units who perform the transplants in Portugal.

“Only those who are healthy can be kidney donors,” Jorge stated. “It needs to be assured that the donor doesn’t have any disease that prevents the donation.” She underlined the importance of “minimising risks of this donation for the person themselves,” so that renal problems don’t develop later on.

When asked about the importance of the donor certifying the intervention’s safety, she reaffirmed that “there are international standards about this subject and only those apt can be kidney donors.”

According to the SPT president, around 1800 people in Portugal are waiting for a kidney transplant and the average waiting time on the list is about five years.

“Many patients are on dialysis during this time,” she stated.

The specialist points towards the national and international crossed renal donation program, where transplants are crossed when donor/receiver pairs aren’t compatible.

“Normally there’s a donor/receiver pair, where the donor’s alive, and if they’re incompatible with each other, that pair can enter a program in which various pairs in the same circumstance enter the group, which increases the compatibility among each other. The donor, instead of giving their kidney to that receiver, gives it to another receiver in the group, and the original receiver gets theirs from another of the group’s donors,” she explained.

The specialist said the kidney transplant “allows an increase to the quality of life and also improves life expectancy in patients who’ve received it.”

Relative to donating the organ alive, Cristina Jorge pointed out that, besides the kidney, it’s also possible to transplant the liver and parts of the pancreas, although the latter can’t be done in Portugal.

All over the world, the most transplanted organs in life are kidneys.

In 2022, the renal transplant represented 53.2% of all organ transplants, having risen by 25 transplants (5.5%) with “a significant expression by the live donor transplant.”

According to the Portuguese Institute of Blood and Transplants (IPST), the crossed renal donation program allowed five live donor transplants in 2 cycles last year, with a 1st cycle of 2 transplants and a 2nd of 3 transplants (made possible by an altruistic donor).

The last set of data shared by the IPST indicates that 814 organ transplants were made last year, 15 more than in 2021.

This year, the SPT dedicates National Organ Donation and Transplant Day to the role of globalisation and digitalisation in the donation and transplanting of organs in an initiative that will run at the Belém Cultural Centre in Lisbon, where organ trafficking, live donation and crossed donation will be debated.