Archive for March, 2018

Council of Europe Convention against Trafficking in Human Organs Enters into Force

The first international treaty aimed at combating trafficking in human organs, the Council of Europe Convention against Trafficking in Human Organs recently entered into force in the first five countries which have some far ratified it. Another 17 countries have signed but not ratified the Convention: Albania, Czech Republic, Malta, the Republic of Moldova and Norway.

Armenia, Austria, Belgium, Greece, Italy, Ireland, Latvia, Luxembourg, Montenegro, Poland, Portugal, the Russian Federation, Spain, Switzerland, Turkey, Ukraine and the United Kingdom.

By criminalizing the illegal removal human organs, the convention aims to combat trafficking in human organs presented by the Council of Europe as a “ serious threat to public health”. According to the WHO, some 10,000 black market transplants are carried out every year.

The convention further seeks to foster increased transparency of national transplantation systems and equitable access to transplants and offers “an opportunity for concerted action on global level by harmonising national legislation, and lays the foundation for cross-border co-operation”.

Council of Europe Secretary General Thorbjørn Jagland called on states from Europe and beyond to join the Convention without delay and urged Governments to “take swift action and co-operate effectively taking advantage of the legal framework the convention provides”.

Source: Council of Europe

UK — Getting Closer to an Opt-Out System for Organ Donation

As mentioned in EKHA Newsletter’s previous edition, Theresa May initiated plans to implement an opt-out system for organ donation last October and is undergoing a consultation on the issue.

In parallel, MP Geoffrey Robinson’s private members’ bill, recently passed its second reading in Parliament and will now be examined at the committee level.

If enacted, England would follow the lead of Wales, which introduced an opt-out system in December 2015, Belgium, France, Spain and now the Netherlands (see previous article on this topic).It was reported that Scotland is also considering a change.

Mr Robinson told MPs that while levels of organ donation were “considerably higher than a decade ago”, the UK had “some of the lowest rates of consent in Western Europe and a “certain inertia” had set in”. According to NHS figures, about 500 people are dying every year due to a lack of suitable donors. It’s important to note that Mr Robinson expressed his hope that an opt-out system would foster open discussion about this issue amongst families. Indeed, in the end, it’s the next-of kin that make the final decision and, faced with the loss of their beloved one, they often step back, sometimes even if the deceased person appears to be a registered donor…

Read more here about plans for an opt-out system for organ donation in the UK. 

Celebrate World Kidney Day 2018!

This year’s World Kidney Day is entitled “Kidneys & Women’s Health: Include, Value, Empower” celebrates kidneys and women’s Health. With World Kidney Day and the International Women’s Day 2018 being commemorated on the same day, this offers a good opportunity to reflect on the importance of women’ s health and specifically their kidney health.

WKD 2018 is the campaign’s 13th anniversary and this year, World Kidney Day’s message is, in essence, to “promote affordable and equitable access to health education, healthcare and prevention for kidney diseases for all women and girls in the world”.

Indeed, the risk of developing CKD is at least as high in women as in men, and may even be higher. According to some studies, CKD is more likely to develop in women compared with men, with an average 14% prevalence in women and 12% in men. However, the number of women on dialysis is lower than the number of men…Likewise, certain kidney diseases like Lupus Nephropathy(akidney disease caused by an autoimmune disease) typically affect women as do kidney infections (as most urinary tract infections) which are more common in women with an increased risk in pregnancy. Finally, Chronic Kidney Disease is considered a risk factor for adverse pregnancy outcome and reduced fertility and in turn, pregnancy-related complications increase the risk of kidney disease.

In view of this, add your voice to World Kidney Day and International Women’s Day 2018 message highlighting the impact of kidney disease on women’s health and the urgent need for targeted, gender-sensitive prevention measures and treatment throughout the lifecycle of women and girls!

Read the Joint Statement, developed in collaboration with the Taskforce on Women and NCDs.

For more information on World Kidney Day 2018, visit:



Netherlands: Opt-Out System for Organ Donation Approved

The Dutch Senate recently voted – albeit with a small majority (38 votes in favor, 36 against) – in favor of a bill drafted by MP Pia Dijkstra establishing an opt-out system for organ donation from deceased people, similar to what is already in place in Spain and Belgium. Adopted by the House of Representatives about a year and a half ago, the law will enter into force in July 2020.

The new law automatically registers people as organ donors unless they disagree and make this known to the authorities. While this measure is of course warmly welcomed by the Dutch Kidney Foundation whose Director Tom Oostrom, called the vote “a real breakthrough for patients on waiting lists”, it is severely criticized by its detractors claiming the law goes too far, by presuming people are donors without them having expressly given their permission.

In practice, as explained by MP Pia Dijkstra, every person over 18 who is not yet registered as a donor will now receive a letter asking if they want to donate their organs after death. People “will be able to reply: yes, no, my next of kin will decide or a specific person will decide,” said Ms Dijkstra in a statement. People who do not respond to the first letter, or to a second letter six weeks later, will be considered organ donors. However, people can change their status at any time.

With such a system in place, it is likely that Netherlands sees an increase in registrations of organ donors, as shown in other countries with similar systems. However, to ensure favourable response by people to the new system, an important communication and awareness raising campaign needs to be made to inform people about organ donation.

The bill will now be signed by Dutch King Willem-Alexander and a minister at the Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport.

Source: the Independent, NOS

EKHA European Kidney Forum : Kidney Donation and Transplantation: The Gift of Life

This year’s European Kidney Forum, organized each spring by EKHA and the MEP Group for Kidney Health will take place on 26 April 2018 at 4.30 in the European Parliament in Brussels. Mark your calendar!

Themed “Kidney donation and transplantation, the gift of life”, the European Kidney Forum will foster discussion amongst stakeholders active on the issue. With its European Kidney Forum, EKHA aims to stimulate action at national and European level towards increasing availability and uptake of kidney transplantation in Europe.

With this in mind, the event will gather representatives from the European Commission’ Health Directorate General (DG Santé), the European Society for Organ Transplantation, the ERA-EDTA, national patient organisations, and of course, the European Parliament with MEPs Hilde  Vautmans (Belgium) and MEP Karin Kadenbach (Austria) opening and closing the forum.

The planned presentations and follow-up discussion will allow for an exchange of views on key issues related to organ donation in Europe today: overview of the situation of transplantation in Europe from the transplant physicians’ viewpoint, the work of the European Commission on the matter, the different systems in place in Member States with regards to organ donation from deceased people (opt-in vs opt-out systems), the patients’ viewpoint, etc. In addition, early data results on the EDITH* project will also be shared by a representative from ERA-EDTA.

A networking Cocktail & Dinner in the Members’ Salon will follow the discussion. Plan to attend!

View the preliminary programme here

If you have any questions, please contact 

Read about previous editions of the European Kidney Forum here.

*The Pilot Project EDITH, which is co-financed by the European Commission, aims to assess the different treatment modalities for End Stage Kidney Disease (ESKD) currently used throughout the EU and to examine the factors that influence the different treatment choices.

EDITH is a 36-month project (1st January 2017 – 31st December 2019) focusing on the differing CKD treatment modalities along with organ donation and transplantation practices and their impact on health expenditures and patient outcomes. The project is subdivided into six closely interlinked work packages realized by a multinational interdisciplinary team aiming at long-term sustainability of the registers established.