Questions and answers about organ donation

Needs and waiting list

What can cause the need for a new organ?

A transplant is necessary for people who are suffering from a disease that has progressed so much so that they will have a limited life without a life-saving organ donation. An offer of organ donation is their only hope of life.

A wide variety of diseases and conditions can lead to organ failure, necessitating the need for a transplant, these include: cancer, diabetes, cardiomyopathy, congenital heart disease, viral disease, poisoning, cystic fibrosis (CF) and COPD.


How many donors is there a need for?

In 2017, there were 112 donations from deceased donors. This is a donation rate of 21,3 donations per one million inhabitants. The country with the highest rate of donation is Spain, in 2014, with 36 per one million inhabitants. To satisfy the need for organs according to the present criteria then the amount of donations needs to increase by 120-130 per year, which will be equal to 30 donations per one million inhabitants.

It is also expected that the need will continue to increase, as a result of many factors including lifestyle illnesses.


How many donors would we have in Norway if organ donation was carried out in all cases where this is medically possible?

According to international calculations there is potential in Norway for 50 donations per one million inhabitants. Where of 20% lapse due to medical reasons. The net potential is therefore 40 donations per one million inhabitants. It is unrealistic to expect that 100% of the relevant possibilities will say yes to organ donation. However, it is realistic to believe that the percentage of people who say no to organ donation should be reduced to approximately 15%. This means that the maximum, realistic potential in Norway is 34 donations per one million inhabitants.

However, this assumes that all potential donors are identified at the country’s donor hospitals and that all questions on donation are brought up.


Can a donated organ be used by anyone that needs it?

There must be certain compatibility or a ‘match’ between the giver and receiver. The most important criteria is:

  • The blood group must be the same (blood group compatibility)
  • The person’s height and weight is same or similar (for heart, lung, and liver transplants)
  • That immunological conditions allow transplants

If necessary, blood type can be reviewed in both liver and kidney transplants. In some instances, the liver can be divided into two parts and be transplanted to two patients. In liver transplants for children, an adult liver is always divided due to space limitations. In kidney transplants there are certain requirements for tissue compatibility