Deputies set an example…

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Written By Kampretz Bianca

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Berlin – An unusual campaign aimed to draw attention to organ donation today: several members of the Bundestag got a tattoo. The deputies called on politicians to once again address the resolution of the contradiction. The objective is to increase organ donations in Germany.

“It is very important for me to increase the willingness to donate organs in Germany,” said Federal Government patient representative Stefan Schwartze (SPD), who organized the campaign together with the Young Heroes Association.

It is Schwartze’s first tattoo. “It will probably remain my only one. “But this is something that I identify with 100 percent and that literally irritates me,” said the SPD politician before getting the tattoo on his left arm.

“We know from research that many people are generally willing to donate their organs,” Schwartze emphasized. “In reality, it looks completely different. Many people on the waiting list die because there are few organ donations.”

The other MEPs confirmed that the availability to donate organs in Germany is too low. “There must be more organ donations so that more lives can be saved”, said Dagmar Andres (SPD). The fact that there are so few organ donations is also due to the fact that people do not think enough about the subject and are often not well informed, said Nadja Sthamer (SPD).

The tattoo – a circle followed by two semicircles – aims to raise awareness about organ donation. “I want to set an example and show others that for some people, their lives depend on organ donation,” said Carolin Wagner (SPD) about her reasons. “Think about whether you want to become an organ donor or not – but think about it,” she expressed her message.

“This is my first tattoo,” said Ye-One Rhie (SPD), proudly raising her arm toward the camera. She also wants to draw attention to the situation with organ donation in Germany and use the symbol to send a clear signal. Other people should ask and address the issue.

Wiebke Esdar (SPD) decided to get the tattoo in a visible place to start conversations with other people. “Maybe I can make a small contribution to raising awareness of the issue and, ultimately, convincing them to become potential donors,” she said.

Martin Diedenhofen (SPD) also wants to attract the attention of those around him with his new tattoo on his arm. “Organ donation has been discussed much more in public than it is at the moment,” he said. The tattoo is a good topic of conversation for the next family celebration. “We have to bring the debate back into society and make people think about it.”

Many people are afraid of the decision, said Ebru Yildiz, a specialist in internal medicine and nephrology and head of the West German Center for Organ Transplantation in Essen. It’s important to consistently educate people and talk about the decision. Information is not necessarily easily accessible in Germany. Some topics such as brain death would also have to be explicitly addressed and removed from the so-called “black box”.

“Most people know that organ donation is a good thing, but many people are not aware of what can get in the way,” said Yildiz, explaining her suggestion. “In Germany we need a culture of organ donation, organ donation must become normal at some point,” she said.

According to Sabine Grützmacher (Greens), a significantly larger campaign could help increase the number of organ donations in Germany. “People are not informed enough,” she highlighted. She wishes doctors would address the issue more actively. Information about organ donation needs to become more visible.

Sthamer said it could also be considered informing people about organ donation before operations. “Not as a large-scale scenario, but as important information that we also have to talk about as a society.”

“Any initiative that draws attention to organ donation and ensures that people deal with it is good,” said Schwartze, calling for more information to be made available to the public. “But that won’t solve the overall problem. We need a bigger step, which is why I advocate resolving the contradiction at this time.” This means you must actively oppose organ removal and otherwise be considered an organ donor.

The objection solution was rejected by the majority of the Bundestag in January 2020. Instead, parliamentarians decided on a so-called consent solution. This requires the express consent of the donor and, at the same time, provides better information to citizens. Anyone who wants to donate organs after their death must actively agree to this in advance.

The legislator intended to strengthen information requirements. Since 2020, all citizens must be asked directly about the topic of organ donation, at least every ten years, when collecting or renewing their identity card or passport.

You should be able to voluntarily register your opinion about organ donation in an online register at citizens’ offices or later at home. However, this came with a significant delay and has only been available for a few weeks.. Registration is voluntary and free; it can be changed or deleted at any time, as announced by the Federal Ministry of Health.

Resolving the objection does not change the voluntary nature of organ donation, Schwartze said. You would just be asked to analyze the problem and make a decision. As a potential organ donor, you can object to this at any time without consequences or consequences. “The voluntary nature remains,” he said.

Carolin Wagner also highlighted that when resolving the dispute, each person can still decide for themselves whether they want to donate or not. “But first and foremost, it helps get more people to make a decision — and that’s a win for all of us,” she said.

Sthamer was also confident that by resolving the objection, more people would become actively involved in the decision. “In principle, organ donation would then be possible and anyone who does not want it should actively oppose it.”

Diedenhofen also spoke out clearly in favor of a contradictory solution to prevent people from dying because they did not receive an organ donation. It’s important to give people a “nudge in the right direction” to encourage them to think. “What everyone does personally is a free and personal decision,” he said.

Schwartze also highlighted that all Eurotransplant countries have the solution to the contradiction and Germany benefits from it. “We implemented bodies here that were removed by resolving the contradiction, but we don’t do that ourselves,” she highlighted. “I am optimistic that we can start another debate in the Bundestag and that resolving objections will become an issue during this election period,” said Schwartze.

The idea for the tattoo, called Opt.Ink, comes from the Junge Helden association. The project began just over a year ago and involved around 700 tattoo parlors across Germany, said Anna Barbara Sum, co-founder of the association.

The tattoo should make the person’s desire for possible organ donation immediately recognizable. According to the association, without written consent, family members must make a decision after death. However, they often refused to donate organs due to a lack of knowledge about the deceased’s supposed wishes.

However, the tattoo represents a spokeswoman for the Federal Center for Health Education (BZgA) is generally not a legally valid form of documentation of the decision to donate organs “Documentation only becomes legally valid through a personal signature, whether on an organ donor card, a living will or an informal document”. However, a tattoo can be seen as an expression of will and, if there is no further decision documented in writing, can help with decision-making, the spokeswoman said.

Since March, declarations about the desire to donate organs can also be documented digitally. Since then, from the age of 16, you can enter a central online registry whether you wish to donate after death or not.

Last year, 965 people donated one or more organs after death. This was 96 more than after a sharp drop in 2022, as reported by the coordinating German Organ Transplant Foundation. At the same time, almost 8,400 people were on the transplant waiting list. © nfs/may/dpa/kna/aerzteblatt.de

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