Record number of Belgians register as organ donors

The number of people in Belgium willing to donate their organs after death continued to rise in 2023, reaching a record high of almost half a million registered donors.

Last year, 480,552 Belgians registered to donate a kidney, heart, liver or other organ in the event of death, according to figures published by the Health ministry on Monday. This is an increase of 9 per cent compared to 2022. 

At the same time, the number of people who refuse to donate is also increasing. More than 200,000 Belgians decided not to be donors.

Single donor can save up to eight lives

By default, every Belgian is considered a potential organ donor, but people can also actively register their wishes.

Active registration is important to ensure that "the family does not have to decide about your organs at a very emotional time", Luc Colenbie, a transplant expert at the Health ministry, told the newspaper De Zondag in October.

Donor registration is also important because it shortens the time before a transplant can be performed. A single organ donor could potentially save up to eight lives and improve the quality of life of another 50 people.

Decline in heart transplants

A total of 369 people donated at least one organ after their death last year, an increase of 19 per cent compared to 2022. The number of living donations also increased, with 80 living kidney transplants and 27 living liver transplants in 2023. 

While the number of liver, kidney, lung and pancreas transplants increased, the number of heart transplants performed last year (49) was the lowest in at least a decade. The main reason for the decline in heart transplants is the increasing age of donors.



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