According to Wikipedia, the laws of different countries allow potential donors to permit or refuse donation, or give this choice to relatives. The frequency of donations varies among countries. For example, Germany (16 donors/million) has an opt-in system whereas under Spain's opt-out system it has the highest organ donation rate in the world (34 effective donors per million inhabitants). German officials are to be congratulated for making this effort to help improve their system.
By Steve Tallantyre, The Local, Spain
Top officials and doctors from Germany are in Spain to get help on how to improve the performance and transparency of their organ donation and transplantation system.
The delegation of government officials and doctors from Germany's DSO transplant organization arrive in the wake of a series of scandals involving data manipulation to alter waiting lists in that country, according to online daily Lasprovincias.
The head of Spain's National Transplant Organization (ONT), Rafael Matesanz, explained that when the German government ordered a leading lawyer to review and overhaul organ donation systems, he had contacted Spain to analyze the Spanish model to see which aspects of it could be successfully transplanted.
"They can't change their system overnight but they can adapt many of the concepts that we've developed and try to modify them to help them improve," he said.
"It's important for a country like Germany, which has always operated its transplant system independently, to come to Spain because we are a leader in this area."
The German system is very different to the Spanish because it depends on the cooperation of the various German federal states, the procurement of organs through the DSO and their distribution via a company called Eurotransplant.
In Spain, the ONT is responsible for both the procurement and transplantation of not just organs but also other tissues and cells whereas in Germany these are handled separately by "many different private companies".
The German Ministry of Health is not involved in the process.
"We have urged them to change in this regard," said Matesanz.
He added: "Spain was the first country where the department of health got involved with transplants and, after 25 years of working well it has proven to be effective."
The German delegation have invited Matesanz to visit Berlin to explain the Spanish transplant model to the federal parliament and how it could be adapted to the German healthcare system.