Last week Renzo Antonelli passed away. Even though he was only two years old he suffered from a condition called hypertrophic cardiomyopathy. He spent several months connected to an artificial heart until a donor finally appeared and Renzo had his transplant surgery which lasted 14 hours. Just like Renzo, thousands across the country are waiting for their transplant. The law stated that unless expressed otherwise, we are all considered donors. However, the General Auditor's Office (AGN) found that there is a lack of clarity in the legislation because the law expresses that "if the person did not express otherwise, the decision to donate organs rests within the family”.
This occurred in 2005 when the Organ and Tissue Transplant Act was modified by the incorporating Article 19, which states that a potential donor is "any person over 18 years that hasn’t made any opposition." Despite this, one of the existing articles, number 21, reduces the scope of the above by stating that "in the absence of an express statement it is the deceased's family who shall make the last decision."
Therefore, "the will of the deceased in favor of donation" as Article 19 states "can be replaced with the family’s own will via a simple sworn declaration". The audit says that this is something almost impossible to prove.
AGN noted that in 2011 "out of the 1,588 brain dead patients potentially suitable for donation, there were 628 broken processes of which 531 were caused by family refusal." In 2010, we found similar numbers. It is clear that "the legislation does not adequately protect the rights of individuals to decide upon donation."
There is only one organ waiting list and it’s administered by INCUCAI. AGN noticed that the Institute "produces advertising campaigns that ask the citizen to become organ donors but does not explain that according to the law, everyone is a donor unless otherwise expressed”.
In 2011, Argentina had the highest rate of donors in Latin America. But when compared with Europe, there is still a lot of work to be done. In Europe, Spain leads the ranking followed by Portugal. The report, published this year, states that "both countries have a clear and concise legislation as an effective tool to attract volunteers" as well as emphasizes the importance of both factors.
In Portugal, for example, "post-mortem donors are those who have not expressed any opposition in the National Register of Non Givers". In Spain, "although this record does not exist, everyone is a donor unless they have expressly left proof of their opposition."
When it comes to the amount of donors in Argentina, the watchdog found that "although it increased by 22% between 2007 and 2011, there are factors that don’t support that growth." For example, "the demand in the waiting list increased by 33% between those years", therefore an increase in donors doesn’t necessarily satisfy the citizens’ needs”.
Furthermore, the report states that “even though donor transplants rose 7% between 2007 and 2011, between 2008 and 2009 they decreased”, for that reason “the program stagnated during that time”.
The INCUCAI database is the National Information System of Procurement and Transplantation (SINTRA). They record "the in and out of patients on the waiting list." The auditors identified in their 2010 and 2011 reports that there were cases of "canceled donations as well as organ losses because of logistical problems or uncertified requests, among other issues."