(Photo: El Espectador)

A national health institute is looking to boost the percentage of people in Colombia willing to donate their organs after donor numbers fell by 15% over the last two years, El Espectador newspaper reported on Tuesday.

Due to the number of Colombia’s total post-mortem organ donors reaching the low level of only eight donors per million people, the National Health Institute (INS) has teamed up with Spanish-based Barcelona Institute of Donation and Transplants to highlight the issue in the hope of changing the trend, El Espectador reported.

Maria Angelica Salinas, coordinator of the Network of Donation and Transplantation, a branch of the INS, stated, “we are conducting visits with Spanish specialists to share information, comments and recommendations in order to optimize the process (of organ donation).”

The INS quote the number to be worryingly low in comparison to Spain where the figure has reached 30 donors per million people.

Colombia’s first successful organ transplant was performed in 1966. From then until the start of 2012 there have been 13,558 organ transplants in Colombia: 79% of them were kidney transplants, and 14% were liver, according to the health-focused Fundacion Santa Fe de Bogota.

MORE: Colombia’s 1st artificial heart transplant deemed a success

Organ transplantation is a well established solution for patients with different terminal illnesses, but transplantation is restricted by the shortage of available organs – and becoming a donor is a voluntary personal choice.

The partnership between the INS and Barcelona Institute of Donations and Transplants seeks to increase the amount of donors in Colombia by 20% over the next decade, through two primary methods.

The first is to demolish the myths surrounding organ donation, and allow more people to be accepting of the concept. The second is to train more health personnel – a priority which is currently being addressed.


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