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Last Updated: Wednesday, 30 May 2007, 09:45 GMT 10:45 UK
EU-wide organ donor card proposed
Organ in a bag
Organs for transplant are in short supply
The EU could soon introduce an organ donor card covering all member states.

The idea has been proposed by EU Health Commissioner Markos Kyprianou, as a way to increase the number of organs available for transplant operations.

A survey showed most Europeans support using donor cards - but only 12% actually carry one.

Around 40,000 patients are on EU waiting lists for a transplant, and it is thought ten people a day die waiting in vain for a donor organ.

The Commission's strategy paper suggests guidelines are drawn up to control the supply of surplus organs to countries in need.

It also proposes creating organ transplant coordinators in hospitals and making better use of living donors.

Mr Kyprianou said: "Organ donations save lives. A European organ donor card, and common EU standards on the quality and safety of organ donations and transplants, could secure a sufficient and safe supply or organs."

Widespread support

An opinion poll carried out for the European Commission in late 2006 and published on Wednesday said 81% of EU citizens "support the use of organ donor cards".

It also found that 56% of Europeans are willing to donate one of their organs after they die.

Support for the idea of donating an organ was highest in Sweden (81%), and lowest in Romania (27%).

The Netherlands, Sweden and Ireland had the highest take-up of donor cards.

However, use of donor cards was extremely limited in member states which have joined the EU since 2004.

Dutch television will air a reality show this week in which a dying woman chooses a recipient for her kidneys. The EU executive and the Dutch government said the show was unethical.

However, the maker, BNN argued the show highlights the shortage of organ donors.

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