Despite calls for changes in healthcare legislation to enable patients to be kept alive in respirators for the purpose of organ donations, and the current precarious situation, the National Board of Health and Welfare (Socialstyrelsen) has no plans to review existing guidelines.
There are currently around 750 people in Sweden waiting for a new organ, but so far this year only 50 donors have come forward.
“The problem is that there are so many standing in the queue that it is no where near enough,” said Michael Wanecek, a senior physician at Karolinska Hospital in Stockholm, to Ekot.
“People die every year and I think that this year alone 7 or 8 people have died while waiting for an organ,” he said.
Wanecek told Ekot that existing rules are vague when it comes to allowing people to die in a respirator – a prerequisite for organ donation as the body must be kept alive even after the patient has been declared brain dead.
Existing regulations stipulate that all health care should be undertaken for the sake of the patient and it is not currently permitted to keep a patient alive nor administer intensive care for organ donation alone.
Anders Prins at the welfare board told Ekot that there are currently no plans to review guidelines to encourage organ donations.
“That organs should be donated is not within the realm of healthcare legislation in Sweden,” he said.