New national organ donation and transplantation plan for Greece led by Trust consultant

A landmark report for a new national organ donation and transplantation plan for Greece has been accepted by the Greek government.

The report was produced by a joint research team by the LSE and Imperial College London academics. The team were led by Professor Vassilios Papalois, consultant transplant and general surgeon at Hammersmith Hospital and professor of transplantation surgery at Imperial College London, and Professor Elias Mossialos, professor of health policy at the LSE and Professor of health policy and management at the Institute of Global Health Innovation at Imperial College London. The comprehensive plan to improve rates of organ donation and transplantation in Greece.

The report for a new national solid organ donation and transplantation plan in Greece was commissioned by the Onassis Foundation, which has undertaken a national initiative for the renaissance of the transplant sector in Greece. It provides practical recommendations for a comprehensive long-term plan that ensures progress and sustainability. It also sets out a roadmap for the creation of a national network of excellence in donation and transplantation, including the new Onassis National Transplant Center.

While Greece excels in other areas of medicine, it has some of the lowest rates of organ donation and transplantation in Europe. Despite the efforts of health-care providers and professionals across the country, it has lacked a system-wide approach and long-term plan to address high levels of need.

The report is the product of two years of in-depth research by a joint team from LSE and Imperial, reflecting their complementary expertise in health systems and policy.

Professor Vassilios Papalois, who is also the President of the European Society of Organ Transplantation, said: “Our vision is for Greece to establish an organ donation and transplantation system capable of attaining and sustaining world-class levels of performance within 10 years. This will be a major undertaking requiring wide-ranging reform, sustained commitment, investment and collaboration across the system, but dramatic improvements can be achieved in a much shorter timeframe. The proposals cover the whole spectrum of modern transplant practice with emphasis on education and research as main drives for progress”

The report has been presented to the Greek government and its recommendations have been endorsed by President of the Hellenic Republic and the Prime Minister, who each provided a foreword to the summary of the report.

In his foreword, Prime Minister Mitsotakis says: “For the first time in its history, Greece now has a National Plan for Organ Donation and Transplantation. This will serve as our Charter for this pioneering medical achievement, as it is high time for our country to put it in the service of our fellow citizens’ life and health.

“The National Plan for Organ Donation and Transplantation will soon make its way to the Parliament to be voted for implementation.”

The report recommends that the NTO should establish national protocols for the management and treatment of patients before, during and after transplantation, which are in line with international best practice. Infrastructure, training and quality standards must be improved. This includes expanding operating theatre capacity and access to diagnostic services.

The report emphasises the importance of reducing the need for transplants through the introduction of programmes to address the underlying causes of organ failure. This would include public health programmes designed to help people to stop smoking, eat more healthily and to exercise more.

Dr. Anthony S Papadimitriou, President of the Onassis Foundation, stated: “In 2019, the Onassis Foundation assigned the elaboration of the report on the National Plan for Solid Organ Donation and Transplantation to a research team from the London School of Economics, in cooperation with the Imperial College London, led by Professors Elias Mossialos and Vassilios Papalois. Two years later, on July 6, 2021, this National Plan report is ready and delivered to the Greek State, marking a new beginning in transplantations to save even more lives. This report is a pioneering scientific piece of work globally, an outstanding and comprehensive study that can become the road map for transplantations in Greece in the following years. It is an important step forward and, at the same time, an answer to the long-standing demand raised by healthcare professionals, patients, and all transplantation stakeholders. In this framework, we would like to thank the two Professors and their team for the great work that they have done.”

• The full English version of the report can be accessed here.

• A summary of the report (including the forward of the President and the Prime Minister of Greece) can be accessed here.

• A fact sheet including key points from the report can be accessed here