Transplantation of organs, tissues and cells has been regulated in Germany since 1997 by the Transplantation Act. There are 1,327 clinics in the country, including 38 university medical centres certified to perform this procedure. The German Organ Transplantation Fund is responsible for the coordination of donors and ensuring that all patients on the waiting list are provided with organs on time.
According to the German law, organ transplantation is only possible free of charge. Transplantation from a deceased donor is given priority over a living donor. As a result, every patient receiving a live organ transplant must first be registered on the waiting list for a transplant from a dead donor.
Naturally, foreign nationals benefit from all the achievements of local doctors and scientists in this field. Thanks to thorough preparation, comprehensive examinations and application of the latest technologies, doctors are able to avoid rejection of a transplant and extend the patient's life for many years. A whole team of specialists work on each case: immunologists, haematologists and even biophysicists.
In Germany, all possible types of transplantation are practiced: autotransplantation (using the patient's own cells), homotransplantation (within the same type) and xenotransplantation (transplantation between different types).
Local clinics can handle the most complicated cases, such as organ transplantations in different blood groups. The most common reason for coming to German clinics is the necessity of a bone marrow transplant to resume the hematopoiesis process. The most common indications are: anaemia, all types of leukemia, myeloma, some cancers (e.g. testicular cancer) and Hodgkin lymphoma.
One of the key aspects during preparation for transplantation is the taking of chemotherapeutic drugs and immuno-depressants. Such therapy suppresses the patient's immunity so that there is no rejection. In addition, this method helps destroy cancer cells. Diagnostic procedures before the bone marrow transplantation are preceded by consultations with such specialists as a dentist, an MRI and a CT scan. Biochemical blood tests are also carried out to ensure liver and kidneys are functioning properly. Otherwise, transplantation may be refused. If necessary, the patient is treated by a dentist. This must be done in order to completely eliminate the risk of infection, as any infection can become fatal after the transplantation.
The bone marrow is transplanted by intravenous injection. The procedure takes up to 2 hours.
The results of the transplantation depend on a number of factors: accuracy of the initial diagnosis, compatibility with a specific donor, compliance with the isolation regime throughout the recovery period, and, of course, competent treatment protocol. If all necessary precautions are taken and therapy is carried out in a well-equipped centre under the supervision of a competent physician, then the chances of recovery are high. This also applies to patients with malignant diseases.
Certified transplant centres include the German Cardiology Centre Berlin
, the Ludwig-Maximilian University Hospital
the Clinic München Schwabing
and the University Hospital Düsseldorf