The Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe adopted Recommendation CM/Rec(2022)3 on the development and optimisation of programmes for the donation of organs after the circulatory determination of death in February 2022.
Each year thousands of patients die or endure poor quality of life while waiting for an organ suitable for transplantation. Recognising that transplantation is the best – if not the only – available treatment for patients with end-stage organ failure and that organ shortages are the main obstacle to the wider use of transplantation therapies, this instrument encourages member states to explore the opportunity of developing programmes for donation after circulatory determination of death (DCDD).
It has become increasingly difficult to meet the transplantation needs of patients in recent years due to a progressive decline in the number of potential donors declared dead by neurological criteria. This means fewer lives saved or substantially improved. DCDD offers more patients the option of post-mortem donation and may contribute to a greater use of organs with satisfactory post-transplant outcomes, supporting countries’ efforts to achieve self-sufficiency in organ donation and transplantation. While DCDD is currently applied in many countries and remains an area of intense interest in the transplant community, practices vary considerably from country to country and adequate national regulatory frameworks are required.
With this instrument, the Ministers call upon member states developing DCDD programmes in response to organ shortages to ensure that national systems are governed by a regulatory framework guaranteeing minimum standards and principles. Training for professionals concerned and public awareness campaigns should also be implemented where necessary. Finally, they enjoin states to maintain transparent registers on DCDD procedures and related transplant outcomes, and to conduct research on DCDD organ transplantation with the objective of optimising practices and outcomes.
This recommendation complements the Council of Europe’s rich arsenal of instruments in the field of public health protection in general, and organ transplantation more specifically. Within the framework principle of sharing knowledge through international co-operation, the Council of Europe and the European Committee on Organ Transplantation (CD-P-TO) and its predecessors have established widely-recognised recommendations and resolutions in the field of transplantation covering ethical, social, scientific and training aspects of organ, tissue and cell donation and transplantation.