Germany has amended legislation to promote organ donation. After years of debate, people over 16 will be regularly asked by their health insurance company if they are prepared to donate their organs. "We are saying to people, 'every organ donor is someone who saves a life'," Health Minister Daniel Bahr told the Bundestag. Officials stressed that organ donation was still completely voluntary.
An estimated 12,000 Germans are waiting for transplants. And soldiers in the US Army are helping to fill the gap. An article in USA Today explains that soldiers who have been seriously wounded in Iraq or Afghanistan are flown to the Army's Landstuhl Regional Medical Center before being transported to the US. The organs of some “brain-dead” soldiers have been donated locally because it would be impossible to repatriate them to the US while they are still viable. Even if a donor is on a ventilator, important organs last for only 24 to 36 hours
The German foundation for distributing organs says that the recipients have been mostly German. But they have also come from The Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg, Austria, Croatia and Slovenia. Since 2006, 36 US servicemen have donated to about 140 European patients. ~ Deutsche Welle, May 25
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