Health Ministry moves to block private donor registries

Decision comes in reaction to German DKMS organization's campaign to drum up donations in Spain

The Health Ministry has announced plans to amend regulations governing bone marrow donation in Spain so that only one - public - list of registered donors exists.

The move was the ministry's response to criticism of Spain's current donor registry system by German organization DKMS at a press conference on Thursday. The private bone marrow donor registry is locked in a conflict with the National Transplant Organization, the body responsible for coordinating organ donation in the Spanish health system, after recruiting up to 1,200 donors in a campaign in Ávila.

"We are better than any public system," said DKMS cofounder Gerhard Ehninger at the conference, adding, "the Spanish system is not ideal."

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"Look at the data," he continued. "While a German has an 80-percent probability of finding a donor, a Spaniard has a 40-percent probability."

"It's a question of probabilities," added DKMS director Stefan Winter. "DKMS has three million donors for 82 million Germans, and Spain has 91,000 for 46 million."

That is why "hundreds of patients die unnecessarily in Spain," he stated.

However, the figures do not match up with those offered by the Josep Carreras Foundation, whose management of the current Spanish bone marrow donor registry the law change would shore up. According to its 2010 report, it initiated 2,006 searches for donors between 2008 and 2010. Each year a donor was found for 72 percent of applicants on the international registry.

Ehninger's figures only take into account people on the DKMS registry, but that is not what happens in reality. Different countries' health systems are linked, giving them access to 18.6 million registered donors across the world.

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